Volunteer Therapy Dog

Heidi Johnson-Laws & Caleb

Therapy dog helping girl in wheelchair

Heidi Johnson-Laws and her therapy dog Caleb, a 7 year old yellow lab, have been volunteering at Rainbows Kid’s Cove for two and a half years.  They became involved with Rainbows in November 2011 after receiving an e-mail from Therapy Dogs International that listed Rainbows as a local volunteer opportunity. 

Heidi’s desire to make a difference in the lives of others is what keeps her coming back year after year.  She loves talking with the kids and watching them connect with Caleb.  One of her favorite memories is of a young boy who is quite shy.  She said, “I never see him talking to many people, but one day he just came up to Caleb and started talking.  He and Caleb were together on the floor for fifteen minutes and he just talked.” 

The value of a therapy dog is one that is hard to measure; some would argue their value increases with every cuddle and tail wag.  Others would take a more scientific approach.  Studies have shown that therapy dogs have positive health impacts on those they visit.  They help to lower blood pressure and levels of Epinephrine and Norepinephrine, reduce anxiety, and increase endorphin levels. For the kids of Rainbows, Heidi and Caleb’s service is invaluable.  “The kids ask weekly what day Heidi and Caleb will be coming in” said lead Tamara Thompson, “they enjoy taking Caleb for walks around the room and love that Heidi remembers their names.”

Volunteering at Rainbows is not the first time Heidi has given back.  She worked as a nurse for over 40 years and took Caleb in off the streets.  “I like to hike in my free time” Heidi said, “and my kids did not want me hiking alone so they suggested I get a dog.  I saw a stray dog on the news one night and the next day my son and I went out to meet him”.   When she is not volunteering at Rainbows she spends her time working at Harden Hospice and taking Caleb to visit nursing homes.

Thank you Heidi and Caleb for your service to Rainbows!

* Information on the Health Benefits of Therapy Dogs came from the Therapy Dog Certification website.