Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara has announced the passing of Sandy, one of its beloved therapy dogs and the matriarch of the organization. She was 14 1/2 years old.
“During her long and wonderful life, Sandy brought joy and smiles to thousands of children, young adults and the elderly in our community, and we will be forever grateful for the tremendous love and loyalty of this sweet soul,” said Karen Lee Stevens, founder and executive director of Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara.
After Sandy, a Labrador retriever, was given a position as the organization’s first certified therapy dog, she began lending a helping paw during classroom visits, enthusiastically introducing herself to children and happily accepting treats and tummy rubs from kids and adults alike.
During her free time, Sandy enjoyed swimming in the ocean, chasing tennis balls, camping, backpacking, and lounging under a giant oak tree in her backyard.
Sandy was also the main character in the children’s book “Animals Have Feelings, Too!,” which was published by the organization in 2011.
“Our book takes readers on a journey through the alphabet, and shows kids that animals and people share many of the same feelings,” said Stevens. “Thanks to the generosity of our community, we’ve been able to give away thousands of copies of our book to children in Santa Barbara County.
In memory of Sandy, Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara is giving away hundreds of copies of “Animals Have Feelings, Too!” Volunteers are distributing autographed copies of the book to every Little Free Library in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria. To find a Little Free Library near you, visit https://littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap/.
At the request of Sandy’s extended family, Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara said, “Pick up a copy of ‘The Sandy Book’ for a youngster in your life and give your own dog a hug, belly rub, and an extra treat.”
For the past 23 years, Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara has been dedicated to empowering people to live more fulfilling lives through the human-animal bond. The organization’s signature program, ARF! (Animals + Reading = Fun!), inspires children to become better readers by reading aloud to specially trained therapy dogs.
The group’s newest program, MindfulKidsSB gives children the skills they need to reduce stress and anxiety and increase focus and resilience. To learn more, visit TherapyDogsSB.org.