Unique Pair Changes Lives at Local Health Organization

COLCHESTER, Vt. - Some call them man’s best friend, and judging by the relationship Liz Kiggen has with her dog Sophie, that statement holds true. 

It hasn’t been an easy road for Kiggen. She credits a local organization and her four-legged friend for getting her back on her feet, literally. 

For folks at Colchester’s Visiting Nurses’ Association (VNA), it’s their greatest joy seeing Sophie and Kiggen, every Wednesday morning. 

“For our therapy here she’s wonderful, it’s just a pleasure to have her, it gives you a good feeling,” says Arlene Jingras, a frequent at VNA.

“Sophie is just the twinkle of all of our eyes when she comes in, it makes me feel good," says Beverly Lebeau, another VNA frequent.  "I’m getting chills but it’s true.”

Sophie is the twinkle of Liz’s eye too. 

“It’s just so amazing to watch her interact with people and the joy and comfort she gives to people,” Kiggen said. 

There’s a special reason why Kiggen and Sophie volunteer at the VNA.  Liz couldn’t even walk two years ago. 

“We were hiking down Camels Hump and I wedged my boot in between two rocks and that was the effective end of my summer,” Kiggen said. 

Liz says she broke several bones and was completely dependent for months. 

“I got some excellent care from the VNA, they came into my home, they got me up and around, they helped me shower; I was in a wheelchair for about eight weeks,” Kiggen said. 

“We worked eventually on being able to stand and walk, once she was able to bear weight on her legs. Seeing her again now being able to walk is just wonderful,” Kiggen’s VNA physical therapist, Heather Dombroski said. 

Two years later, Kiggen is now giving back to the organization that she says gave so much to her. It takes about two months for a therapy dog to be certified through Therapy Dogs of Vermont. Sophie was certified this past June. 

"How can you not smiles when you look at her?" says Kiggen.

Now the inspiring duo changes lives and gives comfort to those who need it most. Kiggen says when she brings Sophie to the VNA, everyone smiles.

She jokes Sophie isn’t your typical lab.  She hates the water, is a terrible retriever, but has found her niche doing therapy. 

Sophie and Kiggen also volunteer at the VNA Respite House

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