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 Michelle Look, of Clarkston, with Pomskies Sky and Luna; Amy Garabedian, of Troy, with Leonbergers River and Envy; Lindsay Rubin, of Rochester Hills, with beagle Jackson; and Steve Ryan, of Lake Orion, with French Brittany Abby, stop by Somerset Collection Dec. 20. The dogs and handlers are from Go Team Therapy Crisis and Airport Dogs.

Michelle Look, of Clarkston, with Pomskies Sky and Luna; Amy Garabedian, of Troy, with Leonbergers River and Envy; Lindsay Rubin, of Rochester Hills, with beagle Jackson; and Steve Ryan, of Lake Orion, with French Brittany Abby, stop by Somerset Collection Dec. 20. The dogs and handlers are from Go Team Therapy Crisis and Airport Dogs.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Therapy dogs train to give ‘paw-sitive’ stress relief

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published December 30, 2019

 Star-Lee Corpuz, of South Carolina; husband Fred, rear; and Henry Gonzalez, 3, from Grosse Pointe Woods, right, take a moment to pet Leonbergers River to relieve holiday stress at Somerset Collection while handler Amy Garabedian looks on.

Star-Lee Corpuz, of South Carolina; husband Fred, rear; and Henry Gonzalez, 3, from Grosse Pointe Woods, right, take a moment to pet Leonbergers River to relieve holiday stress at Somerset Collection while handler Amy Garabedian looks on.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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TROY — Troy firefighters at Station 3 wear their full gear and equipment when Go Team Therapy Crisis and Airport Dogs visit to train so the dogs get used to seeing them in it.

The dogs also train on the escalators, elevators and stairs at Somerset Collection. They visit Brookdale Senior Living communities, and they hang out at the Troy Public Library and Troy High School during exam time to reduce stress for students cramming for tests.

To be certified, the dogs go through 16 hours of training, subjected to a number of different scenarios while they’re providing therapy and crisis intervention to help people relax and de-stress.

Former Troy Fire Department Lt. Tonya Perry volunteers with Go Team and facilitates the group’s training with the department.  She and Go Team coordinator Janet Dohr — with Dohr’s golden retriever, Sutton — stopped by Troy City Hall Dec. 16 to express their thanks to the firefighters at Station 3, and representatives from Brookdale and Somerset Collection for their assistance in training the dogs.

“Our dogs love you,” Perry said. Perry also handled Faith the fire dog until Faith’s passing in 2015 from health problems.

Perry said there are over 50 dogs and handlers in Go Team Therapy Crisis and Airport Dogs of Metro Detroit, a nonprofit organization.

Perry’s rescued border collie, Max, 14, is retired from Go Team.

Troy resident Amy Garabedian and her husband, Nicholas Brown, own and operate Sit Means Sit Dog Training in Rochester Hills. They became acquainted with Go Team through the national group, headquartered in Colorado and started by dog trainers in response to Colorado wildfires.

While she and her husband have trained a number of dogs that are in the Go Team program, Garabedian said the most important thing is temperament, which is largely genetic.

“They need to be pretty stable in most environments and OK with mosts groups of people,” she said. “Some dogs thrive with children, and some thrive with older people. A lot of dogs are suitable. A lot aren’t.”

The handlers and the dogs can put in as much time with Go Team as they wish, Garabedian explained. Handlers include empty nesters, young singles and those with young families.

The Go Team dogs have been asked to visit corporations during difficult times, and they also visit Haven, a homeless shelter in Oakland County, as well as veterans groups. Perry offered the dogs’ services, jokingly, to the Troy City Council.

The dogs do not go to private homes.

“The awesome thing about therapy dogs — they love what they’re doing,” Perry said. “You start petting them and you get calm. I realized how therapy dogs can help people.”

For more information about Go Team, visit facebook.com/TheGoTeamDetroit.

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