COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. -- Every Wednesday the Shelter has a special visitor come play with children who attend the after school program. Winston might be around the same age as some of the kids, but he's four-legged and furry.
“I watch other people interact with him and I see him change them from being sad or in a bad mood to being happy and joyful,” said Mary Baker, Winston's owner and handler.
Winston is a 10-year-old Border Collie and he's been a therapy dog since he was four. Therapy dogs provide affection, comfort, and love for kids. Winston is emotional support for the children making them feel more comfortable sharing their feelings.
“They create a bond and their just loving and love back, so it’s a really amazing moment for them,” said Tamara Somerville, Youth Development Advocate, The Shelter.
Through the Shelter's childcare and after school programs, the staff focus on teaching kids a safety plan, healthy habits, and how to make new friends.
“I like helping kids that are really in need of love and affection and it makes me really happy to be here,” said Somerville.
Winston shows off tricks, let's the kids pet him and shows them what unconditional love feels like. “He still shows the same desire and enthusiasm to do it when he was four, I know he is still enjoying it a lot,” said Baker.
Winston's smiling face lights up the kids faces and their interaction helps them escape reality.
"It makes me love him even more, it makes me sad that he’s ten because I don’t know how long he’ll keep doing this, right now he’s doing great, but you’ll never know, I’m so proud of him and I love everything that he does,” said Baker.
Mary owns Lucky Dog Company which services around five facilities in Collier County. For more information click here.