Dog therapy seeing higher demand during COVID-19 pandemic

Marshall animal therapy business owner says more families are adopting dogs to help kids cope.
Published: Aug. 23, 2020 at 8:44 PM CDT
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MARSHALL, Wis. (WMTV) - For more than a year, Marshall business owner Cindy Brosig has been helping kids and their dogs connect as a form of therapy. She said during the pandemic, her service - and that puppy love - is even more essential.

Devin Frank has been working with Brosig since February 2020, but his dog Inky has been by his side for the last three years.

When the teen started struggling earlier this year, his family turned to man’s best friend.

“I kind of was stressed out with school and stuff,” Devin explained.

His mom Tracy thought of Brosig, whom she had met at an event for small business owners.

“I know the power of nature and alternative therapies, and so I was very intrigued,” Tracy said.

In May 2019, Brosig founded Operation H.E.E.L (Heal and Empower Every Life), an animal-assisted therapy business. She started the business after seeing her son benefit from being around the family’s dogs.

“My own son was dealing with a lot of social anxiety as a child,” Brosig explained.

With a background in nursing, Brosig went back to school to study animal-assisted therapy before starting her business.

When working with kids, she uses different training exercises to help kids connect and communicate with their dogs, and gives them ideas to practice at home.

“I guide, the true work is between the child and the dog,” she said.

Devin said he has definitely seen a change in Inky since the two started working with Brosig.

“She’s become a lot more tame, and she gets distracted a lot less,” Devin explained, adding that Inky has become less hesitant to try new things.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Brosig is seeing more demand than ever. She said with the added stress of the pandemic, she has seen more families adopt dogs to help their kids cope.

“Children who already have a diagnosed ability, let’s say it’s ADHD or depression, I have parents saying it’s gotten worse,” Brosig explained.

Brosig hopes her work through Operation H.E.E.L can help kids get through tough times and prove that man’s best friend can be so much more.

“It’s very empowering for a child to be able to teach those skills to the dog, it brings not only confidence to the dog but also for the child,” she said.

Devin said of his own experience, “Me feeling the same vibes as Inky and stuff has definitely been really therapeutic.”

To find out more about Operation H.E.E.L, click here.

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