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Spartacus The Therapy Dog

IMG_4602Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a pet than it is to a person, especially when it comes to children in distress.

Brad Cole and his Akita named “Spartacus” went right to work on the day of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. They were first responders. Cole and his therapy dog parked themselves at a nearby church on December 14th to be there to help in anyway they could.

“Therapy dogs help lesson anxiety, blood pressure,” Cole said. “They help a person decompress, in some cases just distract for the moment, help them to forget where they are for that brief second of what’s happening. And if they’re an animal lover they’ll get a little bit more attached, they’ll scratch, and they’ll cuddle with the dog, and just kind of help them defuse.”

Cole said the children felt very safe with Spartacus because he’s a large dog and he made them feel secure.

“One of the biggest lessons we learned was that the chldren were not ready to talk yet. The parents could articulate things; they felt the need to get that information from the children, but the children, depending upon their age weren’t ready to talk, couldn’t articulate, or were just tired of the parents saying ‘talk to me, talk to me.’ And we had several instances of children just talking to the dogs. A survivor from Miss Soto’s class was talking with Spartacus, and this child all of a sudden just started opening up.”

It may be a little known fact that dozens of therapy dogs have been used in Sandy Hook at the schools since the December tragedy and it has changed lives. Therapy dogs are used at many of the hospitals in the state. In fact, Spartatcus and Cole do a lot of work there along side other therapy dogs.