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Furry Friends offers wet noses of support

Sometimes what you really need is a furry friend.

That’s where Furry Friends Recovery can help. The St. Louis nonprofit connects therapy pet teams with mental health facilities, support groups and individuals who need help. While there are many therapy animals, Furry Friends co-founders Marion Endress and Tricia Hogan both have dogs. Dogs are sensitive to moods and emotions, Hogan said.

“Dogs don’t judge. They don’t critique. They don’t criticize,” Endress told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh, as her 4-year-old dog Desi napped nearby. “They don’t care if you’ve had a bad day. They don’t care if you’ve showered or not. They don’t hold anything in. All they are is just loving members of the family.”

Not a lot of training is required to become a therapy dog, Hogan said. “If the dog’s going to be a good therapy dog, they have a very natural tendency towards that sensitivity with people,” she said.

How can you tell? “If you burst into tears, would your dog run toward you or away from you?” Endress asked. “If your dog runs away, chances are it doesn’t have that comforting nature. But if it runs toward you, you have a good chance.”

Furry Friends Recovery offers training for dogs and their human counterparts. For the people, part of that training includes learning the differences between nursing home visits and mental health facilities and what to expect at both, as well as various HIPPA regulations.

In addition to visiting mental health facilities and doctor’s offices, Furry Friends also has an on-call service. The dogs are particularly helpful with mental health patients because they help people interact with each other and foster relationships, Endress said.    

Related event

Furry Friends Recovery's second annual benefit and auction

  • When: 6 p.m. Saturday, March 14, 2015
  • Where: Sqwires, 1415 S. 18th St., St. Louis
  • More information

“St. Louis on the Air” discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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