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Therapy Dogs: Making a Difference in the Bluegrass

Regan   Moses

They have a listening ear and patient heart for a child who is learning how to read. They know just what medicine is needed to lift the spirits of a hospital patient. They take the time to listen to the veteran’s stories of days past and know just how to communicate hope for the future.

They’re not teachers, doctors, or counselors by trade but their gentle and loving spirit leads them to fill each of these roles at times.

The name we give to these magnificent creatures is therapy dog. Here at Animal Care Clinic we are proud to care for several.

Therapy dogs provide a wide range of services at local non-profits, working alongside their owners.

Moses, a 4 year old Neopolitan Mastiff, enjoys visiting local hospital patients.

Reagan, a 5 year old pit bull and Quinn, a 2 year old poodle, like to listen to children read at the Lexington Public Library.

Sasha, a 7 year old german shepherd, prefers to visit with veterans at the Cooper Drive VA Hospital.

Sonja, a 4 year old german shepherd, enjoys visiting local nursing homes and hospitals.

Sonja and Sasha

Some dogs help with specific tasks, like physical therapy, while others simply lend a listening ear and a calming presence. The benefits they provide are numerous and often are difficult for human service providers to replicate without the help of our furry friends.

Studies have shown that the presence of a gentle, well mannered pet lessens depression, decreases feelings of isolation and alienation, encourages communication, lowers anxiety, and creates motivation for the client to recover faster. Children who read to dogs show improved focus and literacy skills, likely due to the non-judgmental environment created by a canine listener. Physical therapy patients who have become discouraged with their day-to-day exercises often find themselves motivated to move more, stretch farther, and exercise longer when a therapy dog becomes involved.

Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs do not necessarily live with an owner who has disabilities and they do not have the same access to accompany their owners inside of stores or restaurants. Rather, they are invited into many non-profit organizations due to the valuable services they provide. Most locations require that dogs pass an evaluation showing that they can behave appropriately in the variety of settings they may encounter.

If your pet seems to enjoy meeting a variety of people, shows good manners in public, and does not become overwhelmed in new situations you may want to consider getting them registered as a therapy pet!

Locally, there are two organizations which register and coordinate the majority of therapy dogs – Love on a Leash and Therapy Dogs International. To find out more, visit

Central Kentucky Love on a Leash: http://www.loalcky.com/

Therapy Dogs International: http://tdi-dog.org/

Source: Paws For People, http://www.pawsforpeople.org/who-we-are/benefits-of-pet-therapy/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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