PITTSBURG, Ks. - For many people, going to a mental health facility is not typically an exciting time. Patricia Sims of Pittsburg walked into Crawford County’s mental health center stressed out and feeling down.
As she was in a session, a knock on the door and a friendly face instantly lifted her spirits. It was Sawyer, the 2-year-old, yellow lab and her owner Amy Glines.
"She came up to me and gave me loves and it just made me feel all better and good about myself" said Patricia after meeting Sawyer.
Sawyer is the centers new facility dog. Glines is also the Clinical Director for the center and knew she wanted to bring in a facility dog for the patients.
"I just believe that pets and animals can bring a lot of joy and comfort and can just calm people."
Sawyer came from the Kansas Specialty Dog Services, an organization that trains three types of dogs, seeing eye or guide dogs, service dogs for those physically disabled and facility dogs.
"A facility dog is actually allowed to be petted which most service dogs are not they’re working, but this title and this job for her is comforting and giving snuggles and kisses and just comfort to anyone who needs it” added Glines.
But it was not an easy journey for Sawyer and Glines. Glines said she waited 3 years and 9 months before getting the call from KSDS that a dog was ready for her.
"She stayed there two months, after two months she went to what was called a puppy trainer, and she happened to go to the Topeka correctional facility for women, so women incarcerated there helped train her. She stayed there until about November December of last year and then went back to the facility for her final testing and certification."
From June 9th, Glines trained with Sawyer until she graduated on June 15th and started her new job. Glines says the wait was worth it.
"It almost brings tears to your eyes the difference they can make to somebody struggling."
And Patricia Sims looks forward to seeing Sawyer every time she comes in.
"It really does help me with my issues and troubles that I have going on and I like her I like her a lot.”
The Crawford County mental health center offers Adult and children services, Crisis services, and substance abuse services.
Sawyer is not the first facility dog at the center, there is currently another facility dog at the substance and abuse facility in Girard, Kansas.
According to a pamphlet of KSDS, The Kansas Specialty Dog Service is a nonprofit based in Washington Kansas and has been open since September 1990. It was the first organization in the US to provide both guide and service dog programs all out of the same center.
They have been a member of the Assistance Dogs International since 2003.
For further information on their dogs or becoming a volunteer visit www.ksds.org.
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