If you’re a dog lover, you know full and well how much a dog’s presence can improve your mood. The wagging tail (or nub), the sweet puppy eyes, the ‘please-rub-my-belly’ pose, the toothy smile... what’s not to love? It’s a no-brainer that dogs are perfect for therapy work and have been cheering people up in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, and hospices since the 1980’s.
Pet therapy builds on the pre-existing human-animal bond. Dog owners are closely familiar with the benefits of that bond: unconditional love, patience, greater self-esteem, decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety, an improved outlook on life, companionship, and so much more.
And while dog owners have a special bond with their dogs, not every dog is made for therapy work. Certain characteristics set a therapy dog apart from the others:
Fred is a sweet 2 year old corgi (owned by our Marketing Coordinator) who meets all of the above prerequisites, and happens to be in training to become a therapy dog. Just look at him! He can be found running around the Weighting Comforts office in the mornings as he greets everyone and playing with our other office dog, Rusty the Golden Retriever.
Therapy dogs can provide wonderful benefits to those who are physically, mentally, or emotionally compromised by offering healing, support, and comfort. Animal therapy has been reported to be particularly effective in improving social and communication skills, easing anxiety, improving mood, facilitating independent living, and improving empathic skills.
Patients can find healing in basic interactions such as petting the dog during a meeting between the patient and the healthcare provider, or more complex and goal-driven interactions such as physical therapy for someone who struggles with motivation to complete the exercises. In many cases, patients are able to simply see and interact with a therapy dog, which alone can be therapeutic.
Do you know of anyone experiencing a long-term hospital visit, living in a nursing home, or undergoing intense physical therapy? Could they benefit from a visit from a therapy animal? Try suggesting that they ask about Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) or Animal Assisted Activities (AAA) programs. It could bring them so much joy and comfort.
Stay tuned for updates on Fred’s therapy dog certification journey! Currently in his training, he is learning to ‘leave it’ around tempting foods that may be found in hospitals or hospices. Wish him luck!