How Dogs Are Helping People During the Covid-19 Crisis

Canine heroes are delivering food, visiting from a distance and providing for the front lines 

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Posted in , May 1, 2020

Dog smiles at a computer

There are many wonderful stories about people coming together to help each other during this worrisome and stressful time. But it's not just people giving back! Dogs are stepping up too—delivering goods to neighbors and healthcare staff, and making students, seniors and frontline workers smile when they need it most.

Here are a few of our favorite canine heroes of the moment:  

Delivery Dogs 

Sunny, a Golden retriever in Manitou Springs, Colorado, is pitching in by picking up his neighbor’s grocery list and then returning to deliver the food. Sunny’s owner, Karen Eveleth, wanted to help Renee Hellman, who can’t even leave her house for essential items because of health issues that require her to rely on oxygen. They’ve lived next door for over a decade. Sunny also spends time with Renee outdoors, which provides her some companionship during quarantine. “Little things like Sunny coming over to visit me is nice and makes you feel good,” Renee told CBS News. 

Caroline Benzel and her Rottweiler, Loki, had been visiting the residents of Baltimore’s University of Maryland School of Medicine three days a week before the coronavirus outbreak. But once the pandemic grew, Benzel, a second-year medical student, was stuck at home feeling helpless. She decided to take action for her healthcare community and came up with “hero healing kits” that would help with the skin irritation caused by wearing masks and gloves for extended periods of time. The kits include items such as lotion, baby powder, chewing gum, lip balm, granola bars and tea. On April 21, Benzel posted on Loki’s Facebook page that the duo had donated 4,500 kits and that over eight states had requested them, making it a national movement. You can join the mission by purchasing items on their Amazon Wishlist. Thanks, Dogtor Loki! 

Even sled dogs are doing their part. Caribou, Maine, musher Hannah Lucas runs the Northlane Siberian Huskies and Seppala Siberian Sled Dog Team and realized they could help her help others. Lucas, who also works at a local convenience store, was seeing so many seniors come in for eggs and milk and it sparked an idea: Her sled dogs could help her deliver these items and keep people at home. With assistance from her fiancé David and roommate Wyatt, they each take a team of six dogs that runs the load down a snowmobile trail until they reach a parking lot where the musher can walk to the house that needs the delivery. Lucas told NECN she’s hoping to continue deliveries until it’s too warm for the dogs to run. 

Comforting Canines 

Therapy dogs are known to help people of all ages in hospitals, schools, nursing homes and libraries. They have a calming effect—exactly what we all need during such a serious health crisis. Even though these working dogs aren’t able to step inside those places right now, they’re still finding ways to “visit” and comfort those that need them. Like Ricochet, the surf dog, who’s known for riding the waves. She’s available for FaceTime sessions with healthcare workers and first responders who need a break and could use a furry face staring back at them. 

Then there’s certified therapy dog Tonka, a great Dane who would normally visit senior centers in the Cedar Park, Texas, area to bring residents joy. His owner, Courtney Leigh, was determined to have Tonka continue his work so they began window visits. The seniors are able to see Tonka’s friendly face, which may just be enough to lighten their mood during such a dark time. “We’re so excited to be able to just make them smile today,” Leigh told KXAN

English mastiff Duke is doing the same. Pressing his face against the windows at a New London, Connecticut, nursing home is providing comfort. His handler, Tiger Maynard-White, told TODAY that one withdrawn woman asked a staff member to help her out of her wheelchair so she could get a closer look at Duke.  

Other therapy animal nonprofits are also trying to do their part remotely, such as texting photos of dogs to staff at care facilities to share or hosting video chats with students and patients. 

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