Kerith, a First Responder Therapy Dog, is a 3-year-old golden retriever with a particular aptitude for connecting with those in need.
Heidi Carman, director of First Responder Therapy Dogs in Marin County, Calif., is Kerith’s pet parent.
The duo provides support to firefighters, paramedics, dispatchers, law enforcement, and rescue teams who face physical and emotional challenges while on the job.
Kerith was the program’s first dog. He’s now the first responder therapy dog who’s become a familiar sight at police and fire stations and base camps for wildfires around California.
Her soothing presence offers emotional support to first responders when they are most in need.
Carman tells Daily Paws, “I think Kerith is perceptive. She knows who needs her. And she is the source of that love.”
Carman had been a “puppy raiser” with Guide Dogs for the Blind for 20 years before meeting Kerith as an 8-week-old puppy. Her job as a puppy raiser was to socialize and train puppies that would later become service dogs for the blind.
Carman took Kerith under her wing. She intended to place her in a handler match to become a guide dog. But fate had other plans.
According to Carman, Kerith was not chosen to be a working service dog by the time she was 14 months old.
However, Carman was able to adopt the beautiful puppy due to the doggie version of a “career change.” She believed Kerith’s lovely demeanor would make her an excellent therapy dog.
So the two teamed up to become a therapy-certified team that could offer emotional support to first responders.
Carman describes Kerith’s personality as “fun, loving, goofy, affectionate, and sweet.”
Owning a pet is her absolute favorite thing in the entire world. The thing is, she can’t seem to get enough affection and attention, and she makes a point of demanding it.
Keith’s endearing demeanor means she has a natural capacity to bring happiness and comfort to others. Additionally, she excels at dealing with first responders.
“There is a significant stigma around mental health in the first responder community, and first responders have difficulty asking for treatment,” Carman adds.
She further said, “The canines will simply approach a first responder and enjoy a moment together where the first responder will simply hug and pet the dog with no words exchanged.”
Kerith and Carman visit fire station staff, police briefings, and 911 dispatch workers with a playful petting session to break up their stressful day.
“She is ecstatic when she meets a new individual,” Carman explains.
This adorable bundle of joy seems to make quick friends wherever she goes. It is a remarkable trait for a dog that provides love and support to those who need it most.
The couple wants to inspire other pet parents to engage in their communities.
They’ve even formed a first responder therapy dog certification program to help other canines accomplish what Kerith does.
Carman claims that working with Kerith has altered her life in unimaginable ways. Carman says, “I am better together with Kerith. Because she shows me what unconditional love looks like.”
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We’re delighted that this adorable pup has discovered her destiny as a therapy dog!
You can follow Keith on Instagram to keep up with her.
Thanks to Daily Paws for this amazing story. Also thanks to 6ABC for this video.
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