Much more than just a manâ€™s best friend, Ben and Georgia Granger are firm believers in the power of healing through animals.
Co-directors of Human-Animal Bond in Colorado, the husband and wife duo work alongside their executive committee to place human-animal teams across the Front Range. Services are made available to a wide range of people from emotionally disturbed children to elderly in nursing homes and youth in correction facilities.
The Grangers own loyal companions, Khari, 7, and Kasey, 11, who are both golden retrievers, are involved in just two of the nearly 130 animal-human pairs formed for the animal assisted therapy program.
HABIC, a program at CSU through the College of Applied Human Sciences and the Social Work Department provide therapeutic services when counseling services are unable to provide adequate support.
Ben Granger explained how animals have a unique form of therapeutic healing unlike any other form.
â€œIndividuals can build a strong relationship with dogs that canâ€™t be formed with humans,â€ Ben Granger said.
HABIC now has 46 total programs around the state, including 26 schools, correction facilities, hospitals and disabled veteran centers.
It was founded in 1993 by Georgia Granger, and Ben Granger quickly stepped in when the program took off.
A passion of hers for over 30 years, Georgia Granger said getting the opportunity to help humans and seeing improvements are the best parts of her job.
â€œI always hope that after our help they can have an easier and more adaptable life. The presence of a dog gives the feeling of safety and comfort and is unlike any other type of therapy,â€ Georgia said.
While Kasey and Ben go to the Platte Valley Youth Corrections Facility, Khari and Georgia work with students at local schools in the Poudre Valley school district.
CSU student and HABIC member, Ela Archinger, describes her experience with HABIC and working closely with the Grangers as life changing.
â€œIt really is a wonderful organization, and itâ€™s an honor to work with such kind-hearted people like the Grangers,â€ Archinger said.
The senior social work major plans to pursue a masterâ€™s degree in social work and hopefully go on to use animal-assisted therapy to heal veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
On May 6, CSU veterinarians and veterinary students will provide free eye exams to service dogs, including therapeutic dogs like Khari and Kacey at the universityâ€™s teaching hospital. Both Kacey and Khari will receive the free services.
Kacey will be returning to get his third free eye exam after receiving cataract surgery at just 18 months old. Now 11, Granger said if it werenâ€™t for the early detection, Kacey would have gone blind.
â€œGoing back to get tested is helpful in making him strong for 9 years,â€ Ben said.
For more information about the free eye exams for therapeutic and service dogs and how to register, visit www.acvoeyeexam.org or call 970-297-4136.
Staff writer Allison Knaus can be reached at email@example.com._