Meet Gwena, Echo Glen’s Therapy Dog

December 6, 2021
Gwena the therapy dog sitting with a young woman.

The Canine Connections program was established at Echo Glen Children’s Center more than 20 years ago. The program pairs rescue dogs with the young people in residence who train them in basic obedience over an eight-week session. At the end of the session, the dog goes home with its new adoptive family.

Enrollment in the program is in high demand, and not all residents can participate. However, spending time with animals, especially dogs, can be very therapeutic for residents. After one youth received some devastating news just weeks before their release date, Canine Connection staff Tina and Laura created a campus-wide program for residents to spend time with Gwena, Echo Glen’s certified therapy dog.

Gwena has been on the Echo campus since she was a puppy. Initially, Gwena received service dog training but due to physical limitations, was ineligible to become a full-fledged service dog. Happily, she found her calling as a therapy dog and lives in the cottages where she received her training.

Gwena happily serves the residents and facility that helped raise her and thanks to this new program, one-on-one visits with Gwena are now available to all residents to ease the pain of “ruff” news or to help reinforce treatment goals.

To learn more about the Canine Connection program, visit