While Pongo is certainly an affectionate companion to Mercy Home’s kids and coworkers, he’s anything but a pet—he’s a working facility dog.

Facility dogs are different from pets. They are expertly trained dogs who work side-by-side with a human facilitator in a variety of settings to motivate and inspire clients with special needs.

In educational environments, a facility dog helps engage students around the school and in special education classes. In health care settings, activities such as feeding, grooming, and playing fetch with a facility dog can promote wellness and assist patients in rehabilitation and psychiatric programs.

In visitation settings such as Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, well-mannered facility dogs like Pongo encourage calm feelings of safety and serenity, thanks to their most valued asset: the unconditional love and attention they give to people with whom they interact.

Pongo may have a job to do—as noted by the special vest he wears when on the clock—but our beloved facility dog still knows how to have fun, whether it’s playing fetch with our kids, going on walks in the neighborhood, or brushing up on the 40-plus commands he can perform. But when he’s all tuckered out, he loves nothing more than curling up on a bean bag with one of our kids and taking a doggy doze. It’s all in a day’s work.

In visitation settings such as Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, well-mannered facility dogs like Pongo encourage calm feelings of safety and serenity, thanks to their most valued asset: the unconditional love and attention they give to people with whom they interact.

National Dog Week was created in 1928 by Captain William Judy, a World War I veteran who wanted to recognize the loyalty and service of man’s best friend. Across the country, fun-filled dog activities, fundraising events, volunteer programs, and adoption drives take place to unite the community under one woof.

Dog owners and dog lovers can celebrate in a variety of ways. Spend extra time with your furry friend by going on a special walk that ends at a dog park. Take your pooch to a pet store and let them pick out a new toy or treat. Book an appointment at the groomer to make their coat shine. Consider organizing or hosting a dog-friendly event in your neighborhood or community. Donate food, toys, or medicine to local animal shelters. Or, consider donating to organizations like Mercy Home, where facility dogs are making a real difference in the lives of children who have experienced trauma.

Studies show that interacting with dogs increases feelings of happiness and comfort, and we’ve witnessed that firsthand with Pongo here at Mercy Home. So, National Dog Week is a rare chance to show gratitude for our beloved facility dog, who’s given our kids and coworkers nothing but unconditional love and support. We thank you for doing the same.

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