Before the coronavirus came along, a licensed therapy dog at ProAct in Red Wing was drawing attention, and winning hearts. Her name is Como.

“I can bring her, and the very next day they’re asking when she’s coming back,” said direct service professional Char Dudley. The German shepherd is the second therapy animal to grace ProAct’s campus, the first being a great Dane some years ago.

Como is named after a humane society on Como Avenue in St. Paul. And, she’s a bit of a celebrity at the river town disability nonprofit. From the computer lab to the conference room and finally, the day training area, Como engages a steady flow of participants and staff for petting and companionship.

While a dog’s calming influence might more aptly to participants, Dudley said the monthly visits are almost more beneficial to the staff. “They all come up and hug on her.”

Char Dudley

The DSP will proudly show photos of Como with award ribbons from obedience competitions. Como, a female, is licensed annually by Therapy Dog International.

“We got her as a puppy and she’s now three,” said Dudley. “And the clients adore her.”

Outside of the virus shutdown, Como and Dudley visit nursing homes and other places. The social services industry is big on interaction, and some say there’s no better conversation piece than a friendly dog.