This dog is giving virtual therapy sessions to help medical workers

A golden retriever from San Diego is doing her bit during the global pandemic.

Therapy dog Ricochet usually works with children with autism and special needs, assists veterans with PTSD and helps people with disabilities.

However, due to new social distancing guidelines, the red-haired canine – who works for a Canine-Inspired Community Reintegration (CICR) programme – has been unable to carry out her duties.

Instead, she’s taken up a very special new job – helping frontline healthcare workers with anxiety and stress.

Ricochet is available for online sessions, via FaceTime, with any medical worker who needs it. 

Of course, due to the virtual nature of these calls, there’s no petting or kissing – all the communication is done through eye contact and talking.

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Ricochet’s team told NBC4: ‘In every other crisis, therapy dogs are called upon to provide comfort and healing. But, due to social distancing and quarantine, animal-assisted therapy programs have been suspended.’

They also explain on the Virtual Therapy Dog website how dogs can help with anxiety, at this difficult time.

The website reads: ‘Did you know gazing into a photo of a dog’s eyes creates a calming, connected state of being that, after 30 to 60 seconds, triggers the release of oxytocin in the brain? 

‘Oxytocin is a hormone that reduces anxiety and creates a calming, connected state of being.’

Medical workers are able to book FaceTime sessions with Ricochet’s owner, Judy Fridono, by emailing [email protected]

Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Judy says that while they are based in the US, the sessions are open to UK health workers, too.

She adds: ‘We have also started to include families of those who lost a loved one to Covid-19.’

Those who don’t have time for a call can still be soothed with a slideshow that’s available on the website – which is filled with photos of Ricochet warmly gazing at the camera.

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