For my blog post this quarter, I have decided to write about therapy dogs and how they help those who need it most. Therapy dogs are dogs that are trained to provide affection and comfort to people in places such as hospitals and nursing homes. There are three basic types of therapy dogs. The first type of therapy dogs are called “Therapeutic Visitation” dogs. These are common household pets whose owners take them to visit different places such as hospitals, nursing homes, detention facilities and rehabilitation facilities. Visitation dogs helps people who are away from their family due to mental or physical illnesses and make them feel loved. These truly special dogs help brighten the day of those who are away from their loved ones. The second type of therapy dogs are called “Animal Assisted Therapy” dogs. Animal Assisted Therapy dogs help improve a patient’s mental, physical, social and emotional state. There are many different settings that they may visit. The most common places where dogs make their appearance are hospitals, nursing homes and therapeutic boarding schools for teens. However, there is a reason why the dogs take an adventure in a place like hospitals. Some are involved with specific therapeutic goals, such as assisting with patients who are working towards gaining motion in some limbs and increase their motor control by completing an easy task such as basic pet care skills. Finally, the last type of therapy dog is called a “Facility Therapy Dog”. These dogs mainly work in nursing homes. They are often trained to help keep patients with diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease from getting into trouble. These types of dogs usually live at the facility.
I think that therapy dogs are so important to the community. They can give someone so much love that they may be missing in their life. These extraordinary dogs help people deal with depression, anxiety, cancer and so much more. They are there to listen, to comfort and to love without judgement. There is a sort of feeling that that is hard find with other people and it helps some open up. There are so many ways that therapy dogs help everyone around them. Depression and anxiety have recently become a big part of lives all across the world. Those with depression try to avoid the outside world because of the fear and stress of what may happen. “Anxiety and depression involve emotional turmoil and negative internal ‘self-talk,’” Dr. Katie Kangas, co-founder of the Pet Wellness Academy, explains. “These thoughts typically spiral into unrealistic negativity and this continues in a vicious cycle.” Kangas goes further into explaining how dogs provide a comforting companionship. Her and her group of colleges discussed whether or not having a dog for depression was a good idea and they come to the conclusion that it would help with so many more ways to help than doctors can even prescribe. It helps them have one focus and one responsibility. “A dog needs to be fed, needs to be walked, and needs to be pet, so on days when a person feels least motivated, a thump of a happy tail motivates a person to get back to living,” Demling says.
Along with an opportunity of responsibility, dogs also give their owners and companions unconditional love. After some studies, it was a unanimous agreement that 100% of the time, a dog does not judge when a person is depressed, anxious, lonely, wearing the same clothes as yesterday and can’t get out of bed. It makes people feel like they have a true friend during their difficulties.
One of the most important things about therapy dogs is that when working with people with depression, anxiety and almost any other disease, they are able to recognize signs of a panic attack or seizure coming. “The mere presence or non-reaction to a stimulus of a trusted companion often calms an attack,” Demling explains. “Dogs can also be trained to use passive methods to block strangers from approaching their handler unexpectedly.”
With someone to always be able to talk to, to be comforted at difficult times and for unconditional love without judgement, I believe that therapy dogs are a necessity in this wonderful world. Just think about how happy it will make someone feel, how they will have comfort that is difficult to find in people, as well as the smile on their face when they find a beautiful animal lying down next to them.