Inside the Gates: Meet Kansas, the 168th Wing's new therapy dog
A trip to Anchorage for Jane Lorenz, the Alaska Air National Guard's 168th Wing director of psychological health at Eielson Air Force Base, found herself face-to-muzzle with one of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's most beloved employees.
Bolt, a 3-year-old golden retriever, works with 176th Wing director of psychological health Diann Richardson.
"When I got here a year ago, I met Diann in Anchorage and she had Bolt," Lorenz said. "So I met Bolt and he was wonderful and I said, 'Oh, I wonder if I can get a dog?'"
It turns out all Lorenz had to do was ask.
Lorenz said she just kept working on the process, putting in applications and keeping up on any deadlines and information. Once she got written approval for a therapy dog, she submitted an application to Southeastern Guide Dogs in Florida, an organization that trains guides dogs for veterans and people who are blind.
The nonprofit provides the dogs' for a lifetime of service at no cost.
After about four months, a 2-year-old yellow Labrador retriever named Kansas arrived in June. A trainer from the organization brought Kansas to Alaska and provided familiarization training for Lorenz.
"I think Kansas is like a magnet. They just come to her and she goes to them, it's really cool," Lorenz said.
Kansas was brought in by Lorenz to help airmen break down mental health barriers and the stigma that surrounds mental health. Kansas begins conversations that start the process of getting airmen the help they need.
"Mental health is kind of a tough thing," Lorenz said. "She just kind of breaks the ice, puts people at ease, puts a smile on their face. I mean they come by my office just to say hello to the dog. It's so cute."
She got her name because the person who named her loved the state of Kansas. Although, the therapy she provides is sometimes just as soothing and comforting as the lyrics of the song by the band that carries her name.
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