Harnessing the Magic of a Furry Friend Changed Olivia’s Life

When Olivia was in the second grade, her parents received a call from the school. Olivia was sitting alone at recess crying and couldn’t tell them why. As time went on, it became clear that Olivia struggled with social anxiety and depression—and her parents started looking for answers.

Olivia was officially diagnosed with Bipolar II, a condition that causes significant anxiety and depression. As a young teen, this experience is particularly scary.

“I will get agitated,” Olivia said, “When I’m having an anxiety attack, I don’t know if I’ll be okay.”

The family started looking for ways they could support Olivia and looked into the K9 training program at Colorado Correctional Industries. Her parents thought harnessing the magic of a furry friend would help comfort Olivia. Then, they found The Stink Bug Project.

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“They really wanted to make the right match,” Olivia’s dad, Cory, said, “They did. I think we got the best dog of all dogs.”

Thanks in part to supporters like you, we matched the family with Blue, a sweet, fluffy dog that provides Olivia with the unconditional support she needs. Now when Olivia is stressed or scared, she has someone to make her feel safe.


Sarah, a six-year-old with Cri du Chat Syndrome – a rare genetic condition characterized by intellectual disability and delayed development – needed company badly. Her condition has always caused her to be immunocompromised, and with the advent of COVID, she’s become even more isolated. Her family wanted to avoid any activities that would put her at risk, but sometimes, isolation can be almost as traumatizing as illness for a young child. Without siblings or family in Colorado, Sarah needed a companion to get her through these hard times.

“Dogs are in tune with Sarah’s emotions – they celebrate every success, and when Sarah leaves to spend time in the hospital, Oreo cries at the window, waiting for her to come back.”

Sarah began exhibiting harmful behaviors like biting, head banging, and hair pulling. Her behaviors worsened during the pandemic because she couldn’t play with other children her age. That’s when Sarah and her family found Oreo, a golden retriever/pit bull mix. From the first day they met, Sarah was crying from happiness, and Oreo didn’t leave her side. Oreo can accompany her outside, help her with physical therapy, or even cheer Sarah up when she gets home from the hospital.

“Sarah doesn’t like the sun or the heat, and we wanted her to be comfortable outside, being so isolated for the past year. With Oreo, she enjoys walking him, taking him to the park, and enjoying the swings and slides!”