Day after day, firefighters and other emergency responders are risking their lives to contain the wildfires in California. According to the California Statewide Fire Summary report published on September 28, there are currently 27 major fires still blazing throughout The Golden State, and over 18,000 firefighters on the front lines. The response team plays an integral role in keeping people safe, but their daily tasks are no doubt exhausting and stressful. That’s why a two-year-old Golden Retriever named Kerith has been visiting firefighter base camps in order to provide some much-needed emotional support.
Kerith was initially raised to become a guide dog for the visually impaired, but her owner Heidi Carman decided that she was ultimately suited to being a certified therapy dog instead, due to her cute charisma and calm demeanor. “Kerith has the ability to make the people she interacts with feel special, loved, and important,” Carman tells My Modern Met. “Kerith loves people more than other dogs or anything else. It was clear to me from an early age that she would be an excellent therapy dog because of her love and devotion to people.” Carman continues, “She has a gift of giving her love and attention to all she meets. I saw that in her and knew I needed to share her love with others.”
After completing her official training through an organization called Pet Partners, Kerith has been busy helping patients, medical staff, and paramedics in the emergency department at her local hospital. However, ever since the wildfires began blazing in August 2020, the lovable dog started visiting the firefighters at Woodward Fire base camp in Marin County and the Creek Fire base camp in Fresno County.
A typical day consists of Kerith and Carman getting to the base camp around 6am, when the crew is eating breakfast and preparing for their next 24-hour shift, or recovering from a night shift. They spend four hours walking up and down the rows of parked fire engines to stop and greet the crew. “Kerith matches people’s energy; meaning, if a firefighter is super excited and lays on the ground so Kerith can roll around and play with them, then Kerith will be higher energy and silly with them,” explains Carman. “If a firefighter is calm, stressed, and withdrawn, Kerith will be calm as well. She will sit closely to the individual, sometimes sit on their feet and lean into their body in a way that says ‘I am here for you as long as you need me.’”
Check out some photos of Kerith and the firefighters below, and if you want to help this “friendly, wiggly, ball of fuzzy love” do more great work, you can support her mission on GoFundMe. And if you can't get enough of Kerith, she even has her own book, available to buy on Amazon.