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​​​Furry Friends Recovery

Furry Friends Recovery brings my daughter so much happiness.  She is mentally ill and was recently placed in a nursing home.  At 32 years old it was a big adjustment.  She is an animal person and missed her animals very much.  When Tricia began bringing her dogs my daughter began to play with them and I watched her grow more confident and feel safe.  Furry Friends is a real blessing for my daughter and I am very grateful that they make themselves available for the mentally ill.

"I work at Gateway Regional Medical Center mostly involved with the Behavioral Health Units and I have to say that Furry Friends Recovery is a fantastic addition to Gateway. I have been on the units when they visit and all the patients get a little happier when the dogs come walking in. I have even noticed that the more troubled patients during the day get a little happier when they are petting the dogs."

"The Furry Friends staff is great with patients of all ages. While some patients play with dogs, others are talking to the owners and really opening up with them. The owners have had their fair share of tragedy growing up and the patients can feel far more comfortable when talking with someone who has lived so close to their own situations. When the owners explain that things do get better, it takes time but patients now have a more visible representation that this is not the end and that there is something better down the road."

"There are quite a few patients that could benefit from this group and the volunteer opportunities that are available for them when they are discharged from the hospital. I think they will fair very well working with this amazingly positive group and their companions."  

Success Stories

"I found out about FFR when I heard them interviewed on the radio. I kept repeating their name to myself so I could look them up when I got home. I'm so glad I did! I wanted to see if having a dog in my appointments with my new psychiatrist would help me deal with my anxiety and to bolster my courage to advocate for myself. My case manager thought having FFR involved would be greatly beneficial for me. When we contacted FFR, they even asked if I had preferences for a certain breed or personality. I was really happy to be able to choose to work with a pit bull, Ami."

"As it happens, it was a good thing Ami was there! I had a major meltdown in my first appointment! Ami was resting against me and supporting me when my doctor unknowingly triggered me. Instead of being afraid, Ami stood up and began licking my face; and I buried my head in him and I calmed down. It was still hard to finish the appointment, but I felt like Ami had my back! Even if my doctor didn't understand me, Ami did. Now that we've had a few appointments together, I don't feel nearly as anxious about them because I know Ami will be there to help me."


"NAMI Southwestern Illinois is pleased to be collaborating with Furry Friends Recovery. NAMI Southwestern Illinois in an affiliate of NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation's largest mental health advocacy organization providing free education, support, and outreach programming for individuals, family members, and others impacted by mental illness. NAMI Southwestern Illinois members attending our organization's mental health classes and support meetings have reported extremely positive feedback regarding working with Furry Friends Recovery, and their animal assisted therapy (AAT) services. NAMI support group attendees report improved social and emotional functioning. Furthermore, attendees report decreased anxiety and stress as a result of AAT services. Furry Friends Recovery has also demonstrated an ability to work effectively with children and adolescents receiving in-patient care at local behavioral health hospitals and treatment centers. NAMI Southwestern Illinois looks forward to future collaborations with Furry Friends Recovery."

-Jessica L. Gruneich, J.D.
 Executive Director