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Local pups are helping to heal the community

(Gillette, Wyo.) Three year old Addison may be named for Wrigley Field, but she prefers spending her time indoors reading rather than out on the ball field. She's part of the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, an organization based in Cheyenne with a group here in Gillette. Addi, along with her friend, seven year old Australian Shepard Ellie Mae, have been visiting children at Lakeview Elementary for the past year. The students are encouraged to read to the dogs in order to improve their verbal skills. Addi likes to sit on her blanket and look on intently as kids pick a book and read out loud. [image: kids.jpg] The dogs and their owners, Sherry Percifield and Angie Morfeld, are tested for for their behavior and handling skills. These therapy dogs are not specifically trained, but must be of a certain temperament to visit public spaces. Ellie and Addi spent a lot of time in nursing homes in order to get some practice, before heading off to schools. They've worked out so well, they have been added to one of the local Autism classrooms. Being with the dogs helps kids that may otherwise be nonverbal build their social interaction, by providing affection and support. [image: 20160310_120138.jpg] In the reading program, Sherry and Addi spend about half the year with one class, and at the end each student gets a photo of themselves with their canine buddy, and a book to take home. This past Thursday, the dogs worked with some slightly older students, as part of Gillette College's Stress-Less Week for midterms. It's the fifth time they've visited campus, and Gillette College was their first client in the community. Now they hope to expand to the hospital, where they can let the dogs visit with patients who spend long amounts of time getting radiation and dialysis. Saturday was also the first day they got to spend at Primrose Retirement Home, somewhere they've been hoping to visit since 2014. Percifield and Morfeld volunteer their time and their dogs for these therapy sessions. If you're interested in having them visit, you can contact Angie at (307) 680-5535, or friend Ellie Mae or Addi on Facebook . #county17 #news