Welcome newcomers and to those people already following my blog. Now comes Part 2 of “Are Dogs Good for Your Health?” I’ll continue, so please read Part 1 if you haven’t already.
I thought I’d start out with this: What is a therapy dog? This is often a misunderstanding. A therapy dog is NOT a service dog. A service dog assists his own owner whereas a therapy dog is handled by his owner to assist others at specific times. Therapy dogs are NOT entitled to the same benefits that service dogs are. The Federal American Disabilities Act states that any dog assisting a person with a disability is considered a service dog and are entitled to freely access any building or transportation vs. with a therapy dog, the handler must ask permission.
Overall, the mission and goal of therapy dogs is to enhance the quality of life of people in a variety of environments. They can even be part of a treatment process such as a physical, social, emotional and/or cognitive function.
Therapy dogs have passed their CGC (canine good citizenship) tests but are further trained and tested to be certified therapy dogs. They carry a million dollar insurance policy on them while working!
I won’t list the actual articles, but health and medical benefits have been documented in multiple articles/magazines:
– Positive effects of a therapy dog on society (patients with Alzheimer’s)
– Animal assisted therapy within the context of daily institutional life
– Pet ownership can blunt a blood pressure response to mental stress
Articles supporting the positive effects of dogs abound in journals – from The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine to the Journal of Pediatric Nursing.
Our society is flourishing with the positive effects of dogs being used in the following situations:
Prisons, classrooms, elderly patient facilities, speech therapy, seizure detection, psychotherapy, depression, hearing-assist, search & rescue, cancer detection and funeral homes!
It is difficult to prove statistically or quantitatively that pets have inherent value for promoting the health of humans. But qualitatively? In nursing home dementia units alone, a therapy dog makes most patients more alert, they bring out a sense of humor and laughter, and they’re a social lubricant. Perhaps the entire US Health Care industry is missing something here? If we translated Dogs’ service, their health care benefits, and emotional benefits to our Society … Aren’t dogs a HUGE cost saving in the U.S.?
I have worked my own dog, a therapy dog, for nine years – with both the young and old. (That’s Chester above in a nursing home). There is a sad part of being the handler – walking into a care facility and being told that one of the regulars who loved visits from Chester passed away during the week. Over nine years, there have been many. But a new person fills another void and the dog warmheartedly gives his affection to everyone (which is one trait testers look for). And with children, we mostly read books … children can’t help but love the dog and think of reading being a pleasurable event.
My two dog talks stemmed from one of my Power Point presentations.
And besides Chester being a trained therapy dog doing philanthropic visits, he is the star of a children’s book series. You can meet him at http://dogbooksforchildren.weebly.com (especially on ‘Chester’s Page’). And if you have questions about therapy dog training/organizations, you can contact me through the ‘contact’ page.
I hope you enjoyed my bi-monthly health blog. Feel free to sign up for new posts to my blog.
For more health pearls, check out my book “Younger Next Decade” on my website. And, my big news is that Silent Fear: a Medical Mystery , which was just released in March, is finding much success with readers and made two 100 bestseller categories on Amazon’s Kindle’s store within 48 hours. Check it out! http://barbaraebel.weebly.com
Are you aware of the fiber, protein and vitamin health benefits to be derived from a nice warm bowl of split pea soup? This is my favorite recipe for this particular soup:
Split Pea Soup
16-oz pkg. dried split peas
1 c. onion, chopped
½ c. celery, chopped
½ c. carrots, peeled and sliced
3 cubes chicken bouillon
1 bay leaf
1 t. salt
¼ t. pepper
1 ½ c. cooked ham, diced
Soak peas in water overnight; drain and rinse. Combine peas and remaining ingredients except ham in a slow cooker; cover with water. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours, until soup is thick. Add ham during the last hour; dischard bay leaf before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
From Gooseberry Patch – Slow-Cooker Recipes