Therapy Dog Comes Home

, Posted: Fri, October 12 2012 at 6:56 PM, Updated: Sat, October 20 2012 at 5:42 PM

A therapy dog separated by hundreds of miles is finally reunited with her owner here in Medford.

Heather Olson has owned Sammy for 8 years, and after a necessary move to Oregon for treatment - Labrador Sammy got left behind. soon after, facing a trip not to her owner, but to the pound.

It's been a long road for Heather and Sammy. "It was really hard, she's my total emotional support system," Olson says.

She and her Labrador Sammy have been constant companions for the last eight years. Sammy is Olson's therapy dog helping her with an addiction to alcohol. "The most important is,unconditional love," Olson says of Sammy's importance in her treatment.

"More and more we're becoming aware how healing it can be to have these interactions," says Residential Clinical Director of Medford's Addiction Recovery Center, Rob Skidmore.            
But when Heather left Utah  for treatment at Medford's Addiction Recovery Center, she was forced to leave Sammy behind. "I had to leave my dog back in Utah with my folks."

What's worse, just over 2 months later Heather received a call: Sammy couldn't stay any longer. she was going to the pound, unless something was done.

"It was hard to concentrate on what I was trying to accomplish. I was worrying about her all the time," comments Olson. "It hurt not having her here."

Olson and the members of ARC tried everything. "We looked into flying her. We contacted Utah's Labrador rescue," says Christine Allred, Residential Unit Supervisor at ARC.

Nothing worked. 

Finally, on a whim, they posted an ad on Craigslist. "The response was very unexpected," continues Allred. "We had calls from all over the U.S."

Ultimately, a Grants Pass good Samaritan on vacation in Arizona--took a side trip to Utah and picked up the yellow lab bringing her the 842 miles from Spring City, Utah to Medford.

"It's just a miracle," states Olson. Reuniting Olson with her best friend. "God is really working here. I really truly believe that, it's amazing." A last ditch ad, and effort, yielding miraculous results.

Olson and ARC employees say they're still receiving responses to the ad. People offering to help, even now that Sammy is home.   

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