The Healing Powers of Therapy Dogs

Meet Luxe, a 10-year-old Rottweiler with a job to do.

Accompanied by her owner, Carol Raasch, Luxe is a regular visitor at the Healing Center, a Milwaukee treatment facility for people suffering from trauma. The pair also visit grade schools, nursing homes, hospices and monthly Scout nights at the Wisconsin Humane Society.

Qualities such as obedience, flexibility, comfort with being handled and ability to adapt to different situations, noises and people are of prime importance for therapy dogs. Luxe, who trained with Health Heelers, a local business run by Laura Hey, and is a nationally registered therapy animal, has all the right stuff: “She loves going places, loves meeting people, she’s open for anything,” Raasch says. Hey has 50 therapy animal teams, and the first word she uses to describe Luxe is “calm.”

Luxe is also popular in Raasch’s Glendale neighborhood. Neighbors who don’t have dogs keep treats on hand for her. But when it’s time for therapy business, Luxe doesn’t mess around. Raasch says she has a special harness that Luxe wears on visits.

“When I get that out, she’s on point. She’s alert and ready to go.” Raasch pauses for a bit and then says: “Dogs are special people.”


‘Everyone’s Best Friend’ appears in Milwaukee Health, a special issue from Milwaukee Magazine.

Find the issue on newsstands beginning Monday, July 3, or buy a copy at

Be the first to get every new issue. Subscribe.



Tom Tolan is managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine, where he's worked since January 2016. He spent 24 years at The Milwaukee Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as a copy editor, assistant metro editor and reporter. He lives in Shorewood.