Dogs provide therapy, services to the community

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Among the projects conducted by The Order of Eastern Star (OES) is the Service and Therapy Project involving specially trained dogs.

Nan Rix with Order of Eastern Star will be in Wayne on Friday, Sept. 23 with one of the dogs. She will make a presentation during the weekly Chamber Coffee at 10 a.m. This week's coffee will be held at Bressler Park. 

Service dogs assist persons with disabilities to break down barriers in self confidence and self-reliance, and create greater control of their environment. Many people with disabilities depend on them every day to help them live their everyday lives. They differ from therapy dogs and comfort or support dogs as they are trained to assist just one person. 

Therapy dogs also receive specific training and must meet standards to be registered and participate as a therapy dog. They provide comfort and assistance to several people within a variety of settings. Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs are encouraged to interact with a variety of people while they are on duty, including petting the therapy dog.

A special committee was appointed by the Nebraska Grand Chapter in 2017 and the Service and Therapy Dog Committee was added as a standing committee for the Order of Eastern Star in Nebraska in 2018.

OES Star Dogs of Nebraska, Inc. was formed in 2020 to build a broader base of support and ultimately   meet the needs of a larger group of individuals and group through service and therapy dogs. It was formed as a (501c3) organization.

For more information or to make a contribution to the Star Dogs of Nebraska program, email Oesstardogsofne@gmail.com

Since 2017 the Order of Eastern Star has placed and/or help fund 10 dogs who are currently serving in a therapy or service capacity.

The average cost of a trained Service Dog is approximately $35,000. These are dogs that are trained to specifically take care of one person, such as seeing eye dogs, diabetic alert dogs, epilepsy alert dogs, hearing impairment, mobility assist, search and rescue, and many more.

The average cost of a trained Therapy Dog is about $3,500.  These dogs are owned by one person and they work as a team in the community, bringing comfort to those around them. They are encouraged to interact with a variety of people in many different situations.  Places the dogs can be invited to include schools, hospitals, nursing homes, crisis centers, hospice, libraries, and other places where they needed.

Training programs are available to certify a dog that has the disposition to be a therapy dog.  These are regulated and maintained by the American Kennel Club.  The current certification program being used is the Canine Good Citizen Certificate, this is a program that stresses obedience, working well with your partner, and training in meeting and greeting people in public situations.

Currently Nan works with Louie, a nine year old Goldendoodle who is certified in the AKC Canine Community Good Citizen program.  She started his training the day she got him and it continues every day.  

"We have learned to work together and look to each other to know if we are in a good working situation. Louie is a gentle soul whose strength lies in his ability to sense who needs his attention.  He has become the face of the Star Dog Committee and Charity.  We travel across the state speaking to groups about the benefits of these dogs and the ways they can improve the lives of those in need," Nan said.

She noted that the dogs have gone into libraries where children read to them, visited nursing homes and have been to schools to provide comfort to students who need them.

 

Louie, a therapy dog, and Nan Rix read to students during a recent school visit.

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