× Close
I Need Help Donate

Inside the Mission

Therapy dog wins hearts of children at The Mission

Luna has black curly hair, peppered with grey.

She has four legs and is 67 pounds of pure love.

Luna is a therapy dog. And not just any therapy dog, she is a golden doodle (half poodle and half retriever).

Her highlights of the week is going with her owner, Judy, to visit the the children at Shepherd’s Door, the women and children’s program of Portland Rescue Mission. When she walks through the door of the Family Life Center, you can be sure that her visit will also be the highlight for many of the kids.

Luna and her human, Judy, have faithfully visited the kids at Shepherd’s Door for the past two years. “The kids have been amazing,” said Judy. All of them love Luna.


“She reminds me of my dog.”20160810_gc_1288


“It feels like she’s the most special dog I have met.”


“She really feels like she’s a part of my family,”


“When I’m sad, when I pet her, I can tell her why I’m sad and she can make me happy.”


“When I pet her, if I’m ever feeling sad, it makes me happy. Before I leave I give her a talk that she’s a great dog.”


Judy remembers one little boy in particular. He was learning to speak English. “He would look at Luna from afar, and then one day he would pet her very cautiously,” she said. As he slowly got to know her, he became more confident.

“I’d say ‘this is her ear, this is her teeth, this is her nose, this is her tail,’ and then when he’d pet her, I’d say, ‘soft soft.’”

Before he left the program he was able to say her name and “soft, soft” as he would pet her.

“I saw trust built. Trust and confidence,” said Judy. And it went both ways. When Luna lays on her back, Judy tells the kids, “Luna trusts that you are going to be very gentle with her.”

“Judy does a great job of teaching them how to be compassionate to Luna,” said Stacy Downing, Manager of the Family Life Center. Luna “teaches the kids to step outside of themselves and take care of somebody else.”

The children will color pictures and make crafts for Judy and Luna. “I have them on my refrigerator,” said Judy. A friendship bracelet is tied to Luna’s collar.

“It just warms my heart and I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity,” said Judy.

Luna, feels the same way. “She wiggles and wags when I tell her we are going to see the children,” said Judy.  “Honestly, I can’t tell her until it’s time to go because she just gets so excited.”


Judy and Luna are faithful volunteers at Portland Rescue Mission.

 Want to volunteer at Portland Rescue Mission? Learn more HERE.