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A Therapy Dog You Can Take Home

Coleman House has a special part-time resident, a 6-year-old Australian labradoodle and board-certified service dog named Josie.

Smiling woman holds fluffy dog

Josie the dog lives with her owner, Robin Nasson, Executive Director of Coleman House. Robin brings Josie to work with her every day and graciously shares her pup with the people who live in the building.

Australian labradoodles are a well-known therapy dog breed because they tend to be friendly, gentle, and enjoy human contact. In addition to having the perfect puppy personality for the job, Josie went to advanced obedience school, which is no walk in the park. In obedience school, dogs are taught how to react and respond to people in their environment. They are taught to be comfortable around people using canes and walkers, and to keep calm during stressful situations.

Josie’s presence has had a tremendous impact on Coleman residents. “If someone is not feeling well, they will take Josie for the afternoon. They can take her for a walk or have her hang out with them in their apartment,” says Robin.

Seated older woman getting licked by a fluffy white dog

One resident who has spent a lot of time with Josie is Paula. Upon hearing Josie’s name, Paula’s eyes lit up and she said, “Josie is the most delicious baby doggy in the world.” When Paula had a fall last year, Robin took Josie to visit her in rehab. When she came home to Coleman, Paula had Josie over almost every afternoon to lay in bed and watch T.V. together.

Studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners. Additionally, some health benefits of having a pet include: decreased blood pressure, decreased cholesterol, and decreased feelings of loneliness.

There are plenty of programs that bring therapy dogs to people in need of comfort, but none offer an onsite service animal that has developed relationships quite like Josie.  While other services come in infrequently for a few hours and then leave, thanks to Robin’s dedication and generosity, Josie is available to be “borrowed” by residents all the time. How lucky we are to have them both!