Dogs Enlisted for Airman Resiliency

  • Published
  • By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Auger
  • 439th Airlift Wing

As part of USO New England’s canine program, Westover hosted three certified therapy canines at the USO on base during the March UTA.

This isn’t the first time that the dogs have visited Westover, and their presence has always brought smiles to the faces of Westover servicemembers upon interacting with the friendly trio.

Adrianne Musto, a USO volunteer and owner of the canines, travels all over New England to numerous military installations and events with her dogs Moet, Molson, and Ophelia.

“Where there is a need, we try to make it happen and get the dogs to the event,” said Musto.

Musto was a USO volunteer for a time before having the dogs join the USO family, and the idea to have traveling dogs stemmed from a personal experience with her son’s military service.  “I am a mother of a Sailor,” said Musto. “When he calls home, he mentions missing his brothers, but he also mentions really missing the dogs.”

This challenged Musto to think of a new way to add to her existing volunteer service with the USO and provide something beneficial for many servicemembers. “I had a lightbulb moment where I realized I have three certified dogs and I can help the USO,” said Musto.

Musto referenced studies that show petting animals can lower blood pressure and increase the level of multiple hormones in the body that can play a part in elevating moods and decreasing anxiety and the feeling of loneliness.

“The dogs are magic,” said Musto. “They are true ice breakers.”

Musto said she is thankful to be able to make a positive difference in the lives of servicemembers in such a rewarding and enjoyable way.  “I get to spend time with my dogs AND volunteer at the same time!” said Musto.