‘Ambassadors of Love’: Coulee Region Humane Society’s pet therapy program helps relieve people from stress

Gundersen Health System staffers spent Tuesday afternoon with some good company during National Hospital Week

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) — Work can be stressful and overwhelming. Sometimes wags and wiggles make all the difference. The Coulee Region Humane Society Ambassadors of Love bring their partners to places where a little extra attention goes a long way.

Sometimes people just need someone to talk to.

“She’s very social. She’s our extrovert in our family,” said Arlene Reich, who is part of a team for the Ambassadors of Love program.

So why not spend an afternoon with someone who is just happy to see you? Reich accompanies Penny, who is one of the stars of this show.

“We are a team,” Reich said.

The Coulee Region Humane Society Pet Therapy Program brings friendly personalities to people who could use some good company. Barb Sotirin’s twin brothers (dogs Oz and Merlin) live for these interactions.

“The dogs provide a stress relief,” Sotirin said.

These dogs will travel to many different places, including hospitals. Patients are not the only ones with a craving for tender love and care.

“More often than not, the staff need therapy as well,” Sotirin said.

Registered nurse Charlene Nelson can relate.

“I’ve worked with Gundersen since 2009,” Nelson said. “Everybody’s job is stressful, no matter what your role is.”

It doesn’t take long for these pups to prove their impact.

“It’s uplifting, and it’s comforting, and petting a dog will always put a smile on your face,” Nelson said.

The dogs get something out of it, too.

“They like people and they like getting petted,” Sotirin said.

A mutual desire for connection between two species with love in their hearts all the same.

“They’re just happy to be with you,” Sotirin said.

These dogs travel to other places like schools. Penny loves to sit and read with children as a nonjudgmental listener so kids gain confidence.

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