What happens on a visit?
Our dogs visit children in pediatric wards in hospitals. Most of the children have never been away from home before. They are frightened and fearful at the prospect of having to spend time in a big hospital. Sometimes the children are severely handicapped. When they receive a visit from a therapy dog team, the dogs seem to spark a positive reaction no one has ever seen before. We go to schools to work with children, often those with developmental needs. Many of them demonstrate anxiety and behavioral issues but are calmed by petting a friendly and engaging therapy dog.
We visit lonely seniors in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The dogs and handlers provide a welcome change in routine and often form lasting friendships with the residents. The dogs bring back pleasant and warm memories of family pets from days gone by. When we visit rehabilitation facilities and hospitals, the patients can ease the boredom of institutional life or the pain of a recent surgery by visits from a friendly face with a wagging tail. Sometimes a patient with depression who hasn’t spoken for a while will have a conversation with a dog. Difficult patients sometimes become more compliant when a furry face shows them affection and convinces them to follow doctor’s orders.
Many of our teams enjoy working with children in libraries or in after-school reading programs. The stress of learning to read can be made easier for some children when they read aloud to a friendly, non-threatening dog. The dog “listens” attentively and is non-judgmental. We also help high school and college students lessen their test taking anxieties during exam week when they spend a few minutes petting a visiting dog.
Finally, some of our dogs provide “grief and disaster relief”. In this capacity, our teams have worked in schools and funeral homes to provide comfort during difficult times. Our handlers and dogs come in all ages, shapes and sizes – they are truly bright and beautiful. Videos of therapy dogs in action coming soon!