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Rescue group offers cute, cuddly stress break



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Let K-9 Stray Rescue League volunteer Terri Dodge bring a cute puppy like little June to your workplace. Go ahead, resist. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
October 16, 2013 - Everyone who works for a living takes breaks from the stress and labors that make up their average day.

There are breaks for coffee, breaks for snacks, breaks for lunch, even breaks to a have cigarette or two.

Now through Jan. 1, Oxford's K-9 Stray Rescue League is offering breaks to play with a puppy.

The program is called "PAWS for a Stress Break" and the concept is quite simple – and adorable.

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Businesses large and small can arrange to have a K-9 Stray Rescue League volunteer bring a homeless puppy to their workplace. The idea is to help lower employees' stress levels by giving them an opportunity to spend a few moments petting, cuddling or playing with a visiting canine.

K-9 Stray Rescue League volunteer Terri Dodge, who created the program and is coordinating it, likened the positive psychological effects to therapy dogs' visits to hospitals, senior centers and assisted living facilities.

"The health benefits of just having a dog around are great," she said. "Petting a dog is just relaxing and cuddling with a puppy . . . there's nothing better than that to bring a smile to someone's face and break up the day."

The puppy and volunteer could wait in a conference room or empty office for employees to visit them or they could go around the office from cubicle to cubicle. Either way, any employee who wants to can get some one-on-one time with a furry little bundle of love.

If no puppies are available for a visit, a small dog or an easygoing, larger dog will be substituted. "I will do my best to bring a puppy," she said.

Dodge will typically bring one dog per visit. However, multiple canines are available for individual visits if the business wants or request them and the rescue group has enough volunteers to make it happen.

Dodge got the idea for this program after she brought puppies to an elementary school for a special assembly. It was "such a hit," Dodge thought why not bring them to businesses for visits.

Dodge said she can work around employees who are allergic to or afraid of dogs, or simply don't like them.

"I would meet with the human resources person if it's a larger company or meet with the boss of a small company and talk to them with regard to how they want it to work," she said.

As for the possibility of a dog leaving a little present behind in the office – if you know what we mean – Dodge assured there will be no accidental messes.

"I'm going to guarantee that," she said. "A puppy will go in my arms before it will go on the floor."

The length of each visit will depend on how many employees there are and how long the employer wants it to last.

"I am more than willing to work with any business owner to see what they want," Dodge said.

There is no set fee for this new program. The business owner or company can donate whatever amount they feel comfortable with. "I didn't want to put an amount on that," Dodge said. "Hopefully, they'll be generous."

Keep in mind that all donations are tax-deductible because the K-9 Stray Rescue League is a nonprofit group.

Dodge noted they will not seek donations from individual employees.

"The main purpose is to have the company or business do something special for their employees over the holidays," she said. "We're not there to solicit donations from the employees. We just hope to bring some smiles to their faces."

However, if an employee insists on contributing to the rescue group and management allows it, the donation will be accepted, Dodge explained.

"I'm sure there will be employees that are going to want to donate," she said.

Dodge created the program as a way to raise money for the K-9 Stray Rescue League's medical fund, which is "being depleted faster than we can bring money in."

"Our medical fund is at an uncomfortable, low level," she said.

The group has rescued a lot of dogs lately that have medical issues ranging from heartworm disease to needing eye surgery.

One dog, a Rottweiler mix named Zeus, needs to have one of his hind legs amputated because of a cancerous tumor that spread to the bone.

Another dog, a chocolate Labrador Retriever named Avery, needs to have $2,500 worth of surgery on his legs.

In addition to raising funds, the "PAWS for a Stress Break" program is also designed to help promote and encourage adoptions.

"You may have an employee that falls in love with someone that we bring," Dodge said. "That's even more of a benefit."

To learn more about the "PAWS for a Stress Break" program or to schedule a date and time for a visit, please call Dodge at (248) 431-6167.

Right now, the program is only scheduled to run through the holiday season, but that could change depending on the response.

"If it is a good program, we will definitely continue on after the holidays just because our medical fund is so depleted," Dodge said. "If I do it a couple of times a week, that would be great. Even if it brings in $50 or $100, that would be fantastic."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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