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Discovering Steamboat: The healing power of dogs

Want to get involved?

Heeling Friends, Routt County’s only animal assisted therapy program, will host its annual spring recruitment Feb. 25 to 27.

The organization has openings for teams of exceptional pets and partners, according to Jim Stimson, assistant director.

Anyone who is interested in learning more about Heeling Friends or joining the group is invited to attend a general informational meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Strawberry Park Elementary School gymnasium.

Training sessions will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the following two nights, Feb. 26 and 27.

“We ask for a two-year commitment,” Stimson said.

Teams are encouraged to participate in two 90-minute hospital visits a month or one READ session a week during the school year.

All pet-partner teams are trained, evaluated and certified by Intermountain Therapy Animals, based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The deadline to register for the spring recruitment is Feb. 20. For more information, call 970-871-0021 or email info@heelingfrien...

— Barb Clark and her 6-year-old Bernese Mountain dog Julia demonstrated perfect teamwork during a recent visit to Yampa Valley Medical Center as part of the Heeling Friends hospital visitation program.

Want to get involved?

Heeling Friends, Routt County’s only animal assisted therapy program, will host its annual spring recruitment Feb. 25 to 27.

The organization has openings for teams of exceptional pets and partners, according to Jim Stimson, assistant director.

Anyone who is interested in learning more about Heeling Friends or joining the group is invited to attend a general informational meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Strawberry Park Elementary School gymnasium.

Training sessions will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the following two nights, Feb. 26 and 27.

“We ask for a two-year commitment,” Stimson said.

Teams are encouraged to participate in two 90-minute hospital visits a month or one READ session a week during the school year.

All pet-partner teams are trained, evaluated and certified by Intermountain Therapy Animals, based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The deadline to register for the spring recruitment is Feb. 20. For more information, call 970-871-0021 or email pilot program at Yampa Valley Regional Airport, which places teams at the terminal to greet harried travelers and offer a unique way to de-stress at the start of vacation time in Steamboat.

To keep Heeling Friends strong, the organization hosts an annual recruitment event and training workshops, which will be held at the end of this month. It is the group’s goal to have enough teams trained and vetted so that hospital visits can be offered daily.

After witnessing Barb and Julia in action, I think the work being done by Heeling Friends is making a difference, and I can’t help but think that Steamboat Springs, crowned as Dog Town USA this past summer, is the perfect place to recruit more committed teams to carry out the group’s simple mission of “bringing comfort and smiles” to anyone they visit.

To reach Lisa Schlichtman, call 970-871-4221, email lschlichtman@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @LSchlichtman


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