A cute golden retriever dog is helping to fight the horrendous California wildfires – with cuddles for firefighters.
As they continue to battle the devastating wildfires ravaging the US state, the stress of working in the apocalyptic conditions is as much a problem as the heat.
Exhaustion and the danger of being in the middle of a burning landscape are forever present.
“Sometimes what we witness during a call hits too close to home or the pressures of life outside the firehouse seem insurmountable," one firefighter said.
"Before we know it, the walls we’ve established to protect ourselves emotionally begin to crack. We’re often the last to notice. But if they aren’t shored up, those walls might come crashing down."
But there’s some help at hand in the shape of Kerith the golden retriever.
Kerith is a therapy dog and for the past year has been supporting firefighters in Northern California’s Marin County with much-needed cuddles.
His owner Heidi Carmen explained to SFGate: "She doesn't know there is a fire. She doesn't know there is Covid.
"So she just knew she was seeing her friends and was really happy to do so. "
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“For the firefighters I think it really made their day," she continued.
Carmen has launched a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of getting Kerith to and from the firefighters’ base camps
She said: "Day after day, firefighters and other first responders risk their lives for people they have never met. In one 24-hour shift, this population may be exposed to any number of traumatic events, from wildfires they can't control to patients they can’t save.
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"Although these men and women are incredibly strong, everyone needs support from time to time, and when dealing with trauma, and individuals exposed to trauma, we know that sometimes indirect and grounding support, as well as social contact, can be a very effective aid to treatment for people who have gone through some of the realities outlined above that many of us cannot imagine.
"Enter Team Kerith, the Golden Retriever!
"She provides unconditional love and instant stress relief to first responders.
"She forms bonds with the firefighters by simply being herself: she greets with playful wiggles, adoring eye contact, and makes each person she meets feel important, special, and loved.
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"The experience that Kerith is able to provide can be invaluable to individuals suffering from PTSD symptomology."
Carmen said therapy dogs like Kerith help "change the stigma around mental health for first responders".
She said: "Kerith has become a member of the Marin County Fire Fighting family.
"She is there for the crew when they return from a bad call or when they are simply getting ready for dinner.
"There are many unknowns, since the nature of a first responder’s job is unpredictable, but knowing Kerith will be there to greet them at the end of the day with a wagging tail and a smile is not one of them."
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