By Matthew Johnson of Waggz & Whiskerz
As I have explained with previous blogs, the use of Therapy Dogs in modern times is basically endless. We all know that terminally ill patients, children patients, people in physiotherapy, people confined to wheelchairs, and homebound patients have long been shown to have a positive response to being around dogs and in some cases having actual Service Dogs (Like me).
Recently I learned that according to the Canadian Research Society of Internal Medicine; there is a natural chemical reaction in the brain that makes people feel better and smile when they are petting an animal.
The primary job of a therapy dog is to make people feel calm and happier – perfect medicine for someone grieving the loss of a loved one. Therapy dogs are non-judgmental listeners who want nothing more than to be touched, and to provide comfort to human companions.
Given their commitment to helping people cope with issues such as grief and bereavement, it’s no wonder that psychologists and counselors have turned their attention to the world of therapy dogs to help people deal with grief.
As we now know Therapy dogs have been used in hospitals, retirement homes, and nursing homes, although officially the practice of Therapy Dogs was first discovered and developed during World War 1.
Dogs are now being used in many other settings including elementary schools. One school district in Alberta has been using therapy dogs in classrooms for 11 years and has 3 dogs on “staff.”
What I have learned is that Therapy dogs have a unique ability to sense human suffering. When introduced to a group of students, a therapy dog has been shown to instinctively seek out a depressed or struggling child.
People in grief counseling cannot help but smile when a therapy dog is introduced into the setting. While this may be difficult to believe or test clinically, it has proven to be true with grieving individuals time and time again.
Anyone can get involved in therapy dog training. All dogs trained for therapy work are thoroughly assed for temperament, and typically must be tested, along with other certification and insurance requirements.
The certification involves a number of trials and tests that ensure the dog is not afraid of moving things like wheelchairs and gurneys, that they do not startle at loud noises, that they can walk on various floor surfaces, that they will not jump up on anyone, and that they have no aggression or fear toward people.
The bottom line is simple if you or someone you know is hurting weather it be physical, emotional or both; a Therapy dog could be the answer.
Waggz & Whiskerz will soon be releasing our own Therapy Dog program to help those in need with similar situations. We are scheduled to release in the summer of 2011.
We will be happy to help.
Stay tuned for more on my “Tails” With Benji & Woofie June 15th 2011
I will be updating everyone on my health and the progress “Benji” has made as my service dog.