From shelter to rehab; A rescue dog's journey to becoming a therapy pet

Published: Apr. 15, 2020 at 12:55 PM PDT
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At the Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center in Reno, there's a special resident who has free reign of the halls.

If you have trouble fining him, just follow the sound of a ball bouncing in the hallway, or simply come through the front door.

"He loves the guys," John Kelly, resident manger of the program, said. "He always egging for a walk, you know every guy that walks in the door he's licking on their face or wanting to get petted. You guys get to play ball with him all the time."

Who is he? It's Marley, a former shelter dog from the Nevada Humane Society who now has a very important new job. Marley is now a therapy dog for the men going through the program, and he has fit right into the role

"He makes it home," Kelly said.

It's no surprise Marley fits in so well with this group.. He's a graduate of the PUPS program- having been trained by inmates at the Warm Springs Correctional Center.

"He's used around being institutionalized men," Kelly said. "A lot of our men here are coming from institutions."

Kelly is not just the program manager. He's also Marley's new owner. The two have immediately bonded. In fact Kelly loves Marley so much he has memorized his profile description from the Humane Society.

"His profile said, 'Hi I'm Marley. I'm a graduate of the PUPS program. For those you that don't know what that means, it means have lots of good manners and follow commands,"

It's almost as is fate brought the two together, and the timing couldn't be better for their pairing. The coronavirus crisis has placed the facility on lockdown, and that's creating additional anxiety for the men in the program who are trying to get clean.

"I think that's what inspired, our program director to push for the therapy dog," Kelly said. "So that would help to relieve some of the anxiety, and some of their worries about what's going on outside."

The lockdown means the men can't work in the thrift stores, attend meetings, or visit their families. But a passing ear scratch, a snuggle, or a walk with Marley can help restore a sense of normalcy.

"It's lowered the level of anxiety," Kelly said. "It's lightening the atmosphere. [He} is definitely making a profound effect on the house."

Copyright KOLO-TV 2020