Canine therapist is here in Brookhaven, at your service

Published 9:26 pm Monday, August 28, 2017

Her name is Sophia and she’s here to help.

Anne Houston Craig, 29, is a therapist for the Southwest Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Center, and she recently added a new member to her team.

Sophia is a therapy dog. The Great Pyrenees is 2 years old and her main purpose is to help children with anxiety.

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“I work with kids that have experienced any type of trauma. Whether it’s physical, sexual abuse or domestic violence, we try to help them,” Craig said. “So the purpose of Sophia in this setting is for those that are really nervous, they can pet her and it helps with anxiety and breaking the ice.”

Craig and Sophia completed training at the Dawgonefun Training Facility in Canton on Aug. 17.

They also completed three site visits at local nursing homes in Canton, where the trainer would supervise Sophia to make sure everything was going accordingly.

After a six-week training class, Sophia officially became a therapy dog.

“I have to make sure the kids I see aren’t scared of dogs or have any allergies before I’ll bring her in,” Craig said.

She said she was inspired by a therapist in McComb who had a therapy dog.

“Sophia is our personal pet at home, but after I found out about my fellow co-worker in McComb having a therapy dog, I started researching where I could take her and try to get her certified as one. I have a certain collar I put on her when we go to work and she gets so excited, because she loves people,” said Craig.

Although the main office for the Southwest Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Center is in McComb, Craig is able to work in Brookhaven so people in this area don’t have to travel there.

She has an office space at the Henderson Counseling Group, located at 115 North Cleveland Ave.

Her passion is working with children and helping them get through the most difficult things they’ve been through.

“Some of the traumas are really sad,” Craig said. “It’s tough being able to see a kid go through something that no one should ever have to go through at their age or any age, but I love seeing kids make progress from when they first came in to when they get done with therapy.”

In the future, she wants to continue working with kids through the advocacy center, but also has plans to become a psychologist.