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20 Heartwarming Photos That Show How Therapy Dogs Change Lives For The Better

Suggested Post / One Green Planet

Therapy dogs provide love, affection, and comfort to those who need it the most. Man's best friend is trained to be a calm, encouraging, and the best shoulder to cry on.

You can find them at memorials, veteran centers, nursing homes, hospitals, and anywhere else they can share happiness during bleak times.

My beloved doggo is the first one that greets me in the morning, and at night, he loves to snuggle to help me fall asleep.

He's a family dog like no other, and I'm sure many dog owners can attest to how much having a dog can boost your mood and make you feel overall healthier.

New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins said, "When an eighty-five pound mammal licks your tears away, then tries to sit on your lap, it's hard to feel sad."

That statement could not ring more true.

Take a look at 20 heartwarming photos of therapy dogs changing the lives of the people who need it the most.

1. Therapy dogs welcome Parkland students.

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After a couple stressful weeks at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the principal surprised students with an adorable line-up of golden retriever therapy dogs.

The dogs from the Humane Society of Broward County spent time cuddling the teens and providing unconditional love and comfort.

There's nothing more beautiful than seeing these group of kids smile after what they've been through.

2. Finding a new best friend at the children's hospital.

This wonderful golden retriever spreads happiness by visiting sick kids.

These therapy dogs are specialized to help give patients a break from medical treatment and cheer them up.  

3. Helping students who struggle with reading.

It's not easy to read in front of a group of people, even when you already have that skill.

Therapy dogs are great listeners, and love to encourage their best friends to read aloud and improve their skills.

These furry friends don't correct or judge the students, they let them gain confidence.

4. There's nothing stronger than the bond between two best friends.

Research has shown that dogs improve independence and emotional well being, especially among children with special needs.

5. They love you even when you can't play with them.

Participating in the Boston Marathon is not an easy feat, and when times got tough in 2013, there was a group of loving therapy dogs ready to bring comfort and lift the spirits of those who needed it the most.

6. Falling asleep in the arms of a dear friend

Why cuddle with a stuffed bear when you can cuddle with the softest puppy?!

While visiting his dear friend at a sick kids hospital, this doggo fell asleep.

What this therapy dog can't see is how he's brought a beautiful smile on the little boy's face. So precious!

7. Nice to meet you too!

If you've ever been in a nursing or retirement home, you know these residents need a good laugh to lift their spirits.

Who better than this little guy? He even knows how to give a proper hello.

8. You can pet me when you're stressed

When I got accepted to a university across the country, I had no choice but to leave my dog behind with my family. I knew I would miss him so much.

These young adults are taking a break from studying during finals week and petting a furry friend.

"You see (students's) shoulders drop and see them smile. This is a great way for them to keep life in perspective. That really is the most significant part of the program. With academic stress, it's not uncommon for students to get tunnel vision during finals. Five minutes with a cat or dog, it clears their head," Chris Daood, who work with the dog therapy program, said.

9. "I wouldn't mind a belly rub."

Again, these therapy dogs provide a lot of comfort and unconditional love in retirement and nursing homes.

Not many of these patients have a decent amount of social interaction, so it's nice to have a good listener in the room.

10. Saying hello at a memorial for Pulse nightclub victims

During tough times, you can't even imagine mustering up a smile.

But for a few minutes, the loving nature of a therapy dog can change your emotions.

You remember how to smile. You think of happy thoughts.

That's priceless.

11. Some heroes do wear capes.

Is that Krypto the Superdog? He's definitely good at giving hugs and posing for photos.

12. "Don't be scared, I'm right here."

Who loves going to the dentist? Nobody.

Therapy dogs provide comfort during all times of stress. The child in the picture above has autism, and needs his furry friend to keep him calm.

13. They'll always give you a helping paw.

Kennesaw State University / Paws 4 Love

It's impossible to talk about therapy dogs without mentioning service dogs.

They too provide therapy, but are specifically trained to help people with disabilities, such as visual or hearing impairments, mental disorders, or mobility impairment.

14. Don't we all need love?

Am I the only one who gets excited when I see a dog on the street?

There are days we feel lost and discouraged and would love if something or someone could brighten up our mood.

Who better than a dog? Especially if they're trained to give you the best kisses in the world!!

15. They'll be by your side anytime you need support.

Some airlines allow support animals to board in the cabin of an aircraft, which is such a relief for people who need them the most.

16. Having fun with the soldiers that just returned home

I see three heroes in the photo above, what about you?

These PTSD service dogs are the best welcome a soldier can get when they come back from a difficult and long journey abroad.

17. Hector's motto was "The only thing I fight is discrimination."

This pitbull was far from ordinary. He had a tough past but that didn't stop him from giving people unconventional love.

He spread joy everywhere he went, teaching people the power of empathy.

18. Xander may be blind, but he has a big heart.

Xander had both eyes removed when he was only a pup, but when he walks into the room, it's his smile that captures your heart.

This pug comforts victims of child abuse, inspiring them to live life to the fullest, just like how he has.  

19. Lexy is serving her country the best way she knows how.

Lexy supports the military staff at Fort Bragg, California.

She encourages soldiers to seek treatment when they need to, instead of bottling in their emotions.

20. The students at Sandy Hook sharing their stories with their furry friends.

It's not easy to talk about things that bother you. It can be especially hard for children.

When times are tough, I always confide in my dog. They help to relieve the stress of past events and cope with what happened and help me understand how I can move on.

Share this story to spread the awareness about the greatness of therapy dogs!

[H/T: One Green Planet / Suggested Post]

If you like this story, check out 40 cute photos of kids and their dogs.

Moojan has been a writer at Shared for a year. When she's not on the lookout for viral content, she's looking at cute animal photos. Reach her at moojan@shared.com.