As a service dog trainer, Sussanah Charleson cites that dogs provide their owners invaluable help in maintaining their mental equilibrium. Service dogs, in particular, are proven to have been especially helpful in coping with mental disorders such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Charleson, who now works in the field of psychiatric dog training, started to believe in this when she herself became a victim of extreme anxiety and paranoia. Through the help of her dogs, she recuperated.
Training dogs for this specific purpose is quite an endeavor. It may take up to two years to train a dog. Adding to that, finding the right dog to train poses its own difficulty. The odds of finding the perfect dog for the job range from about 1 in 30 to 1 in 1,000.
Jane Miller, a dog trainer and a licensed pyschotherapist, has found a way to combine her two passions. She now practices psychotherapy with her trustworthy dogs, a method she said has revolutionized the field of mental illness treatment.
Miller uses her golden retrievers Simcha and Ahava to accompany people with mental disorders during her therapy sessions. Service dogs for the mentally ill, like Simcha and Ahava, are trained to do tasks specific to their owner’s disorder. A person with an eating disorder might be stopped from going to the pantry by her dog. A trained dog for epileptic owners will signal for help at the onset of an attack.
Most of these service dogs in the program are rescued, which means that the animal and the owner share a common bond of experiencing trauma.
Nottingham Farm in Knoxville, Tennessee hosts a special horse riding camp for children who suffer from a variety of medical conditions that limit their engagement in typical childhood activities. At camp, the children ride and interact with horses, providing a much-needed respite from a life that is largely influenced by illness or a medical disorder.
Reporter Emily Stroud reveals just how meaningful the camp is for boosting the spirits of the children and their families. Donations allow the farm to offer the camp at no cost to the children’s families.
Rebecca Slator is a special needs child who has a debilitating genetic condition that requires constant care. However, that has not stopped Rebecca from volunteering at a local animal shelter. Thanks to her amazing affinity for working with animals, Rebecca has been helping to foster kittens.
Rebecca’s mother, Nicola Slator, reports that the involvement with pets has had an amazing impact on her daughter’s development. The interaction with cats has generated a spark that has unlocked learning for Rebecca.
Angela Flacksbarth suffered from anxiety and severe stomach pain. Despite testing, doctors had difficulty identifying the issue, until they were able to diagnosis her as having an eating disorder.
When Angela was informed of the diagnosis, she became withdrawn, not wanting to socialize with family and friends. It would take a rescue dog name Liam to bring her out of her self-imposed isolation.
Liam serves as a calming influence to help relieve Angela’s anxiety and helps her to be more socially engaged. More importantly, Liam is a constant reminder to Angela that she must properly take care of her own health so she can take care of Liam.
For years, dogs, with their unique ability to comfort and soothe, have served in various venues, such as hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. However, having canines serve in a similar capacity in the courtroom setting is a relatively new venture.
Participating in a legal proceeding, or even simply attending a courtroom, can be an unsettling and stressful situation. The purpose of having a dog in the courthouse is to reduce the anxiety. The mere presence of a dog can have a calming influence on those who are involved, particularly children.
A Nebraska county is hoping to offer the program with the help of Canine Companions for Independence, which has been training companion and service dogs for over 35 years. It is the largest assistance dog organization in the world.
In a unique form of physical and occupational therapy, horses are used to help mend the physical and emotional wounds of returning soldiers. This type of treatment, which utilizes the motion and sensory input of riding a horse, is called hippotherapy.
Working with a trained therapist, the therapy can benefit those who have brain and spinal inquiries, as well as other types of physical inquires. Wounded warriors can work on regaining lost motor skills and improving their flexibility.
The video below explains that Sgt. Michael Buccieri, who suffered a severe injury to his back while serving in Afghanistan, is one soldier who is benefiting from this type of amazing treatment.