DELTA COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – Back in late August of 2020, over 100 dogs were rescued from an alleged puppy mill in Maple Ridge Township; and now one of those dogs is helping the community that saved her.

The story of Blue, the one-and-a-half-year-old Australian shepherd, is one of true resilience. From being rescued from a traumatic experience to now serving her true purpose as a therapy dog for the Delta Regional Child Advocacy Center.

“We’ve had Blue since she was about 18 weeks old and then when she was up for adoption, we adopted her,” said Sarah Sorensen, Blue’s handler/family advocate for the Delta Regional Child Advocacy Center. “We noticed pretty early on that she [had] a very calm demeanor. I mean considering what she went through she was just very calm, very laid back, very cuddly.

“She’s not much for agility or anything like that so we thought we’d try a different route to see if we could find her a job. It turns out she loves kids and she loves to cuddle so we thought we’d go through do some training with her and she caught on so fast, and when she started seeing kids it was very clear this was what she was meant to do.”

Back in November, Blue started her training in person at the D&D Dog Dynamics Kennel in Gladstone. She has since graduated from their advanced obedience course and is now working with child victims of crime at the center.

“The true disclosure rate by children increases by 48 percent when a therapy dog is present in the forensic interview process, so that is one of the big benefits. Some of the benefits that we’ve already seen are if a child comes through these doors and they’re nervous or they’re feeling scared, they see Blue and it’s like a whole demeanor change for the child. They’re happy to see her. She’s a really good distraction and she’s excellent at cuddling them. She loves to jump on the couch and lay down on their lap and give them lots of love,” said Sorensen.

At the end of January, Blue will be going through an evaluation to become a nationally certified therapy dog.

“She’s a really great asset to our team already and we’re looking forward to having her on staff and being able to help kiddos no matter where they are,” said Kelly Chandler, program director for the Delta Regional Child Advocacy Center. “We’ve been traveling a lot this year to communities that don’t have CAC services and so we traveled around 9,000 miles in 2021 to provide services to children and families outside of Delta County. So we’re happy to have Blue as a part of that project as well so she can travel with us and help those children as well. So, the impact that Blue is going to have on the Upper Peninsula cannot be measured.”

Photos courtesy of Kelly Chandler/Delta Regional Child Advocacy Center.

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