Reporting John McDevitt
By John McDevitt
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -A dog who spent some time in prison has a new leash on life — comforting humans who are grieving over the death of a pet.
Staffordshire Terrier mix Vivian Peyton was adopted from a shelter. She went through a prisoner dog training program called “A New Leash On Life” before becoming a therapy dog.
“Where she was trained by prisoners for three months, passed her canine good citizen test in the prison and that was the first step in becoming a therapy dog.”
She now helps her current owner Michele Pich a veterinary grief counselor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Ryan Veterinary Hospital.
“She comes to a lot of my sessions. She’s a good comfort to people who have lost a pet (who) are maybe not ready to adopt another one yet, but really miss that touch and that comfort,” Pich said. “She loves to crawl up on people’s lap, put her head on their lap really give them just a sense of calming and a sense of comfort.”
Pich says there is a lot one can do to keep the spirit of your pet alive even after his or her death like holding a memorial service, fostering another pet or making a donation to help other animals.
For more information on the grief counseling program, go to www.vet.upenn.edu.