Animal Assisted therapy has been proven to be beneficial to people. This therapy can encompass occupational, physical, and emotional therapy. Therapy Dogs provide emotional therapy. Studies have shown that when not only petting an animal but just touching them increases the endorphins generated in the pleasure centers of the brain. These naturally occurring endorphins lower blood pressure, provide pain relief, and give a general feeling of relaxation. In schools and prisons studies have indicated that just having a dog walk into a room will change the atmosphere and dynamics that are occurring. The number of disciplinary referrals is lowered when there is a resident dog in the room.
Blue-Gray Therapy Dogs is a group of certified therapy dog teams from Fredericksburg, Stafford, King George, Westmoreland and Spotsylvania counties who share love and provide comfort to the surrounding community through a variety of animal-assisted therapy programs and activities. Throughout the year the group participates in parades, health and educational fairs and exhibits; church animal ministries; visits to nursing home; local hospitals; homeless shelters and adult day care centers. Blue Gray Therapy Dogs (formally known as SpiritKeepers) was founded by Sue Peetoom, Nancy Moon, and Linda Damiano in 1996. Blue Gray Therapy Dogs currently has over 80 participating teams and continues to grow yearly.