Australia Counselling mental health bloggerTHERAPY DOGS: pets as therapy

Research has shown that pets provide owners with psychological and physiological benefits. Pet dogs help people maintain an active routine. Pet owners are less likely to report feeling lonely. Therapy dogs lift mood and often provoke laughter.

According to Brian Hare, director of Duke University’s Canine Cognition Centre, simply petting a dog can decrease levels of stress hormones, regulate breathing, and lower blood pressure. Research has shown that petting a dog leads to the release of oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding and affection, in both the dog and the human.

Ref. The Healing Power of Dogs by Amanda Fiegl, National Geographic News December 21, 2012

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Our beautiful, gentle golden retriever (seen with me in the photograph) is a wonderful companion. He likes a lot of affection and he receives it!

We never come home to an empty house…no, we always come home to a house full of dog! He dances and runs with his tail up and wagging furiously then brings us a toy, begging us to play a game. We talk to him, pat him, play with him, love him. He makes us laugh every day. We call him our “chum dog”.

Our golden retriever was trained as a pets-as-therapy dog. I took him to interact with mentally ill people and also visited nursing homes where frail elderly people enjoyed patting him and reminiscing about the dogs they used to own. As a therapy dog our retriever brought smiles to the faces of so many emotionally and physically fragile people and he enjoyed their attention.

 

GROUND ZERO 9/11 search and rescue dogs: therapeutic role

A golden retriever whose name is “Bretagne” (pronounced Brittany) was one of nearly 100 search and rescue dogs that worked in rescue and recovery following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City. Her owner is Denise Corliss.  Bretagne and Denise were members of Texas Task Force 1; they were deployed to Ground Zero on September 11, 2001. Bretagne is now sixteen years old and the last Ground Zero rescue dog alive. See the following links:

Bretagne and Denise

Ground Zero Search and Rescue

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Denise and Bretagne

See Bretagne’s  “birthday bash” below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezcHy8DkrmE

In this youtube video Denise reveals that she didn’t anticipate the role the working rescue dogs would play as therapy dogs. Her own working dog Bretagne helped her get through her experience at Ground Zero, giving her support and comfort. Bretagne was also a therapy dog for the various workers at Ground Zero. If you are a dog lover, watch the video and be moved…

 

SCHOOL SHOOTING: Therapy dogs called “K9 Comfort Dogs”

The “Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting” occurred on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, USA,  when a gunman fatally shot 20 children and 6 adult staff members. A team of nine specially trained golden retrievers were taken to act as therapy dogs: “K9 Comfort Dogs”. The K9 teams visited schools, churches, activity centres and private homes in the community.

“One boy confided in the gentle-faced golden retriever about exactly what happened in his classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School that day—which his parents said was more than he’d been able to share with them. A little girl who hadn’t spoken since the shootings finally started talking to her mother again after petting one of the “comfort dogs.” Groups of teenagers began to open up and discuss their fear and grief with each other as they sat on the floor together, all stroking the same animal.”

Ref. “The Healing Power of Dogs” Canines bring comfort to Newtown survivors and others in crisis.

Amanda Fiegl, National Geographic News, published 21/12/2012/   See the following link:

2 year-old with therapy dog

The team of golden retriever therapy dogs was used during grief counselling sessions and to ease the tension and anxiety.

See the following links:

K-9 comfort dog 

Comfort dogs with children

 

LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD!

 

 

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