organization broadcasts ‘fur therapy’ statewide | News for Fenton, Linden, Holly MI

Lime tree – The hairiest, happiest therapists in the state are probably graduates of Mid-Michigan Therapy Dogs (MMTD).

Marianna Ziegler-Hickey, vice president of MMTD, said fur therapy inspires everything from utter joy to wonder, and helps de-stress an environment. “It creates an intangible bond between humans and dogs, and it reaches people and builds bridges. It’s therapy that humans can’t provide, but dogs can, ”she said.

They recently attended the Linden Holiday Happening Frosty Parade, where nine handlers and their dogs from the Linden Fire Station chatted with spectators at the event and let the children pet their well behaved dogs.

Three Linden students recently graduated from the Fall Therapy Dog Program with their pets. The ceremony was held at the Goodrich United Methodist Church on Thursday, November 18, which is also their training center.

Linden resident Tracey Head, who is studying social work, completed the program with her 2.5-year-old golden retriever Teddy and graduated in November. Attending the Linden Parade was their first event after graduation.

“People love it. Someone sees a dog and they think “oh my god”. This is the best thing. I think it’s amazing and awesome. I can’t wait to go to school and get out into the community, ”she said.

MMTD, a non-profit organization, has 152 handler and dog teams that service area schools, airports, medical facilities,

community events and parades. Classes last 12 weeks, cost $ 200, and take place every two years. MMTD accepts approximately 25 people in a class. The students bring their dogs and together they form a team. Teams must pass the Canine Good Citizen test established by the American Kennel Club after the first six weeks. If they are successful, they spend the next six weeks making visits to socialize the dogs. They bring distractions like wheelchairs, strollers, and food during training.

These dogs cannot show aggression and they must follow basic commands. They are required to have up-to-date plans and managers must pass a background check as they often visit places with vulnerable populations. MMTD trains all different breeds, from Great Danes to Chihuahuas.

“You have to have the heart for service and the heart for giving back to the community,” Ziegler-Hickey said. MMTD visited dozens of facilities across the state, including seeing students at Oxford High after the shooting. The teams are trained in mourning. advice.

The dogs go to Girl Scout reading programs, they visit the Symphony of Linden, Genesee Valley Mall and Bishop Airport in November when they hosted the National Troops. With this program, called Operation Handshake, dogs will greet troops when they go on active duty and when they return. MMTD is a community partner of Bishop Airport.

The teams also service the Genesee County 911 operations center with monthly visits, and they also visit the Flint Police Department. One of their best-known graduate teams works for one of the Green Bay Packers’ doctors.

Although MMTD has teams across the state and country, they are heavily concentrated in Linden and in the schools. There are nine dog handlers with 10 MMTD dogs working in Linden Community Schools. They are members of Linden Pay it Forward, and they’ve also prepared gift bags for the K9 cops.

Much of the job involves meeting older people and helping struggling students. Head has noticed that more and more schools are bringing in therapy dogs, which she supports. “I think it helps calm the kids. I love the reading program, ”she said. “I believe it helps with the mental health issues that we currently have. Dogs love you unconditionally. I’m glad I did. I like the experience. Can’t wait to put smiles on more faces.

The next series of courses will start on March 1, 2022. Places are filling up quickly.

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