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Paws for Healing

24 February 2023, Impact of Our Work

Therapy Dogs Help Children Cope with Trauma of War in Ukraine

The impact of war on children is devastating. Even once they reach safety, they are forced to process the unimaginable horrors of conflict. But amidst the darkness, there are rays of hope. 

One such ray comes from the work of Your Way. With the support of Save the Children, Your Way provide therapy for children affected by the war in Ukraine.

Nataliya and Olena, canine therapy specialists, with two-year-old golden retriever Parker and border collie Best,
therapy dogs, at a school outside of Kyiv, Ukraine.

Victoriya* is a young girl who has been through more than most adults will ever experience. She lives outside of Kyiv with her family and has witnessed the terrifying chaos of war. Victoriya* shares some of her experience of the conflict.

“[After the war began], my leg started to go numb, that's all. When there were bombings, my leg hurt a lot and I couldn't stand on it. It happened when we were bombed and I was sitting on a chair and couldn't get up. I didn't know why, [as if] something was gripping in my leg, I could barely walk.” 

Thanks to our incredible supporter community, she is now benefitting from therapy with a two-year-old golden retriever named Parker. 

Viktoriya*, 9, poses with golden retriever Parker, a two-year-old therapy dog,
during a therapy session at a school outside of Kyiv, Ukraine.

Nataliya, a canine therapy specialist who works with Victoriya* explains the impact of canine therapy on children: “A canine therapy dog is focused on human stress. It’s focusing on finding and reducing stress.” As you can see in the video below, these canine therapists are very good at their job! 

Through her time with Parker, Victoriya* is finding a source of comfort and relief. “We were playing with the dog. The way we were playing felt like love from Parker,” she says. 

Viktoriya*, 9, and Iryna*, 7, during a canine therapy session. 

Lina, the Project Coordinator at Your Way, notes that many different types of therapy animals can have a powerful effect on children. 

“[A therapy dog] brings them out of the feeling they came in with and works so they leave with a different mood. Children open up a lot when they see an animal. It can be canine therapy with a dog, as well as small animals, such as a hamster or a rabbit.”

‘Best’ is a very good boy, and a very good canine therapist. 

Children playing with Bob the therapy rabbit, Ukraine.

With the help of our generous donors, Save the Children is able to support Your Way to provide vital therapy services to children like Victoriya*. We’re proud to be a part of this effort, and we know that the impact of these incredible animals will be felt for years to come. 

*Names have been changed to protect identities.
Photos: Oleksandr Khomenko / Save the Children.

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