Therapy Dog Provides Comfort To First Responders Battling California Wildfires

Firefighters have been tirelessly fighting the blazes that have been burning through California. In an effort to do her part and bring care and joy to the exhausted firefighters, Kerith the golden retriever has been visiting the firefighters on the front lines.

Kerith works as a licensed therapy dog, meaning she’s been a comfort to the firefighters who are working in Marin County in Northern California. According to her owner, Heidi Carmen, who shared with SFGate, Kerith has been doing this work for a little over a year.

According to her owner, the firefighters are really appreciative of Kerith. She brings such joy since she is all positive energy – she’s completely uninhibited by the problems going on in the world. Carmen mentioned that there was one firefighter from central Marin who stated that their base camp was the best one ever because of the golden retriever’s presence.

The work that Kerith is doing is so important, that Carmen set up a GoFundMe page in order for Kerith to continue her work. All the funds raised will be put towards Kerith’s transportation costs in order to get to the first responders, as well as her time spent with the firefighters.

On the GoFundMe page, there is an explanation that reads, “Day after day, firefighters and other first responders risk their lives for people they have never met. In one twenty-four-hour shift, this population may be exposed to any number of traumatic events, from wildfires they can’t control to patients they can’t save.”

It further adds that the men and women who fight fires are quite tough people, but even they need support of their own from time to time. As a result, that is where Kerith comes in as she has experience dealing with people with trauma and giving them comfort.

The description further added that Kerith “provides unconditional love and instant stress relief to first responders. She forms bonds with the firefighters by simply being herself: she greets with playful wiggles, adoring eye contact, and makes each person she meets feel important, special, and loved. The experience that Kerith is able to provide can be invaluable to individuals suffering from PTSD symptomology.”

The physical benefits that come from Kerith being around the firefighters is that they experience an elevation in their moods, as well as lessened feelings of anxiety, stress, or loneliness. Besides these, some of the other health benefits they experience include lowered blood pressure, improved cardiovascular health, and slowed breathing.

Another important note that Carmen pointed out on the GoFundMe page is that Kerith is one of many therapy dogs who is helping to change the stigma that surrounds mental health – particularly that of first responders. She wrote that Kerith is a part of the Marin County Fire Fighting collective and they love seeing Kerith. Given the unpredictable job description, the firefighters appreciate Kerith, who always is there to greet them with a bright and positive homecoming every time they come back from a fire.

Kerith also has her own Instagram page where people can follow her adventures as she visits the firefighters out in the field and makes them feel a little more at ease.

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Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.
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