In California, there are fires raging all around. The firefighters have been tirelessly working to get the blazes under control, it has taken a toll on their mental health. That is something that we sometimes forget – that first responders and other emergency service providers will often experience a lot of emotional exhaustion amongst other feelings. But helping them get through the tough times is a sweet little golden retriever named Kerith.
She is a licensed therapy dog. And according to the SFGate, she has been working alongside the firefighters in Northern California’s Marin County for a little more than a year.
As her owner, Heidi Carmen, said about Kerith, “She doesn’t know there is a fire. She doesn’t know there is COVID. So she just knew she was seeing her friends and was really happy to do so. For the firefighters, I think it really made their day.”
Carmen even added that there was one firefighter from central Marin that stated it was Kerith who made their base camp the best one yet. It’s safe to say that dogs do have that effect.
Kerith has become a very important part of the fight against the forest fires since she brings so much joy and comfort to the firefighters. Her work is so vital that Carmen even began a GoFundMe pagein order to help out with Kerith’s expenses, including her transportation.
Carmen explained on the GoFundMe page, “Day after day, firefighters and other first responders risk their lives for people they have never met. In one twenty-four-hour shift, this population may be exposed to any number of traumatic events, from wildfires they can’t control to patients they can’t save. Although these men and women are incredibly strong, everyone needs support from time to time, and when dealing with trauma, and individuals exposed to trauma, we know that sometimes indirect and grounding support, as well as social contact, can be a very effective aid to treatment for people who have gone through some of the realities outlined above that many of us cannot imagine.”
The post went on to continue, explaining that Kerith’s role is to provide the first responders with plenty of love and cuddles which are the perfect stress relief. While doing this, the dog ends up creating bonds with the firefighters and other emergency personnel, all who feel quite loved once they get to spend time with her. She is also is able to help those suffering with PTSD.
Besides being able to positively affect peoples’ mental health, Kerith can also provide physical health benefits as well. Given that she’s hanging around the people, they can experience a release of hormones that help to elevating moods, as well as lower anxiety and reduce stress. Additionally, they could also experience some lowered blood pressure and improved cardiovascular health – nice!
Another one of the things that Carmen pointed out is very important, is that Kerith is helping to break down stigmas about mental health that might surround first responders. And that is an important stigma to break. Her adventures with the firefighters that she hangs out with are all posted to her Instagram @kerith_the_golden_retriever.