Service Dogs Trained by Narberth Nonprofit Make Life Sweeter for Youngsters Who Need Calming Friend


Paws and Affection in Narberth is making the lives of children with disabilities a little brighter by matching them with service dogs, writes Beccah Hendrickson for 6ABC. 

In the last eight years, the nonprofit has matched dozens of kids with their pets, including 10-year-old Jessica Lorusso and her pup, Winni. 

“Usually, when I’m doing my hair, she will come and lay with me or set her chin on my lap,” said Lorusso. 

Like Winni, most of the dogs the nonprofit trains are retrievers. 

“What we’re looking for is this little spark of magic where the child says ‘I’ve been waiting for you,’ and the dog says the same thing,” said Laura O’Kane, the executive director of Paws and Affection

Since the pandemic began, anxiety diagnoses in kids have increased by 25 percent. The nonprofit trains dogs to recognize anxiety symptoms and help children cope. 

“What our dogs can do is they can interrupt a panic attack. They can nudge someone to change their way of thinking,” said O’Kane. “If they’re picking at their hair as their way to say they’re anxious, the dog can be taught to identify that and interrupt it.” 

Read more about Paws and Affection at 6ABC

Stay Connected, Stay Informed

Subscribe for great stories in your community!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.