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Dogs help healing at Ohio Air Force base

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 31, 2012 at 9:17 am •  Published: December 31, 2012

Grace, a more than 140-pound blue and white Great Dane, has found a duty beyond "sitting on a couch all day," said Karen Loar, 65, of Springfield, the dog's owner.

"She does well as a therapy dog because she's very inquisitive," Loar said.

The dog sported antlers on a recent visit to Wright-Patterson.

"She likes to get dressed up," Loar said. "You want to think somewhere deep down by dressing up she's more approachable."

And popular.

"She's on more cell phones today than you can shake a stick at," she said.

The dogs trotted in on a temporary basis two years ago for a tryout period, officials said.

After three months, hospital staff bought into the visits.

"They said are you kidding me," said Coen, 69, of Fairborn. "You can go anywhere."

The Miami Valley Pet Therapy Program trains the dogs in a 10-week, 20-hour course. The animals must receive recertification every six months, Coen said.

Last month, only 15 of 24 dogs passed the course.

The comfort-spreading pack has roamed all over the base: from welcoming home returning troops back from overseas assignments to a recent visit to the 88th Air Base Wing headquarters, she said. The canines visit area hospitals, nursing homes, schools and libraries and in some places cats and rabbits are part of the animal entourage.