There have been several staff changes in and around the Family Sunshine Center, but the most noticeable is wagging with excitement. Meet Louisa (LuLu), the FSC’s facility dog.
Louisa Von Trapp is a 2 1/2 year old Labradoodle acquired through a partnership with Service Dogs of Alabama. As a Facility dog, Louisa is trained to provide comfort to client survivors of all ages in crisis or in need of support.
Louisa’s benefit is twofold: when independent of her handler, she can sniff out clients and staff members who need her. Studies show that facilities dogs can help reduce blood pressure and provide immediate comfort to those in need.
Animal therapy can also break the barrier with clients and get them talking. Louisa’s calming presence can help a client get the words out and give them comfort while they recount their trauma.
And there is nothing more precious first thing in the morning than being greeted by a big-wagging tail and her smile. That will brighten up your day.
Facility Dogs like Louisa work in a variety of settings ranging from schools to agencies where stress is prevalent daily, including courtroom interviews, police departments and facilities like FSC where services are tailored toward aiding clients in overcoming domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other forms of trauma.
Executive Director Tay Knight and Ilia Snell are the primary and secondary handlers of Louisa.
Louisa lives with Tay and (Tay) is her spokesperson, addressing any direct concerns or questions about her work within the facility, well-being, or availability. Ilia, as the secondary handler provides support to Tay as well as addresses questions about Louisa’s training and purpose. Ultimately though, Louisa is trained to work with multiple people at the FSC.
Louisa is a welcome part of the FSC team and is a great conversation starter. Louisa can fulfill an important piece of a survivor’s journey from fear and abuse to hope and healing.