Lily the therapy dog has an important job to do.
The Golden Retriever recently began working at the Rape Crisis Center of Milford, Connecticut. As a certified therapy dog, Lily is on site in order to provide companionship to rape and sexual assault victims during counseling sessions.
Since not everyone is comfortable with dogs, Lily makes appearances by request only. Her calming presence helps those in counseling feel comfortable opening up and sharing their experiences with trauma.
Lily’s handler, Peggy Pisano, is also the director of victim services at the center. Pisano told the Huffington Post that Lily’s ability to live in the now provides something special for the victims she comes into contact with.
“It’s very hard to talk to a person because a person talks back, said Pisano. “Lily’s just totally nonjudgmental no matter what you’re saying. She’s just happy to be present.”
So, what does a counseling session with Lily look like? It depends entirely on a client’s comfort level and state of mind. For some, Lily simply sits or lies at their feet. Others who prefer a more interactive approach can brush Lily during their session.
Pisano reports that clients react positively to interacting with Lily. In one case, Lily licked a girl who was stroking her head.
“For this girl under those circumstances – it was just magical…These dogs have that innate ability to provide comfort and I know she does for us.”
Lily’s work at the center isn’t a one-way street, however. Pisano says Lily benefits as much from the interactions with the clients as they do from theirs with her.
“She’s never met a person she doesn’t like,” says Pisano. “Each person who enters her office is like her new best friend.”
Lily has only been at the center for several weeks. However, Pisano has plans for the therapy dog’s future. Eventually, she hopes to make Lily available to the police department and the courthouse, so that victims giving statements or testifying can benefit from the dog’s healing presence.
Lily’s work is proof that’s she’s not only golden on the outside, but on the inside, too.
All photos courtesy of Peggy Pisano via The Huffington Post.