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Service Dogs Going Virtual

May 18, 2020

Therapy dogs typically tasked with providing comfort and emotional support are now, like many workers, adapting to doing their job virtually.

Four-year-old Levi is part of Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Ministry and boasts more than 2,000 hours of training on how to help people.

Now he’s doing remote visits with the help of his handlers who say Levi knows it’s time to work when they put on his comfort dog vest.

“Sure, he’s never sat in front of a computer like this for as many hours as he has now,” explained Pam Miller with Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Ministry. “That’s just not a normal thing for a dog that visits people to do. For us to stick his face in front of a computer or ipad, in the beginning, I was putting a phone in front of him. He’s like, this is not a toy. Why do I want this? But he can hear the voices and, you know, he’s looking your way, and he listens.”

Miller said when he’s around people, he can actually sense who needs a little more attention, who needs some comfort.

She admitted that is hard to do over virtual. But noted that when he has his vest on, he knows he’s working, he knows he needs to be relaxed and pay attention to what we’re doing.

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