According to the data provided by the American Pets Products Association, 83.3 million own dogs and 95.6 million own cats. People who own animals are reported to have been living happier lives. This and other positive effects can also be found in animal-assisted therapy for people diagnosed with autism.
Some animals who contribute for the cause are alpacas, horses, dolphins, and dogs. Autism programs that are assisted by animals have certain elements in common. Each program assists children with autism to learn to trust, de-stress, decrease inappropriate behavior, care for other living things, step out of their comfort zone, and most importantly to communicate.
There are some studies do not have clear evidence as to how these programs work their magic, but there are noticeable improvements for children with autism undergoing such programs.
Source: Autism and Animal-Assisted Therapy
Cynthia Hinckley and Wayne Desroches from Bright Spot Therapy Dogs came to Mass Appeal to talk about how people can get involved with therapeutic dogs. First of all, they have stated the difference between therapy and service dogs. Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks to help a person with disability while therapy dogs work with their owners to help others.
There are some qualifications needed before a dog can become a certified therapy dog. They should have good temperament, knows basic commands like sit and stay, non-aggressive, controllable, predictable at times, at least one year of age, clean and free of parasites, and enjoys visiting other people.
Source: Train your pet to help others!
Clinton Funeral Service has recently acquired a therapy dog to help customers through the mourning process. The 2-year old King Charles Spaniel named Mollie is still in the process of training for certification. Her training includes staying away from certain objects, and also letting her know how to recognize grief and how to comfort people.
The idea came from World War II when a visiting soldier’s dog uplifted the spirits of those who are wounded. The funeral home is the first in their area who has ever acquired a dog to comfort people in their time of grief.
Darriel Ezell, co-owner of the funeral home, states that the best medicine will always wag its tail.
Source: Clinton Funeral Home Acquires Grief Therapy Dog
The passion for loving dogs and helping others is the perfect mix for Charlottetown resident Chantal Thibeault. She is one of three service dog trainers who recently underwent a “socialization training” with the dogs of The East Royalty group. The exercise is a way for the dogs to become familiar with being out in public environments.
The group includes Moncton residents Paula Sears, Anne Carton, and three dogs named Penny, Eva, and Eli. The dogs’ training can take about eight months to a year-and-a-half. Although they are still new at it, the dog trainers aim to help individuals who are suffering with physical and/or mental disabilities.
The group helps people who suffer from all kinds of illnesses including autism in children to PTSD of war veterans.
Source: Service dog trainers mix love of animals, passion for helping others
Equine specialist Shannon Knapp says that some people think that a horse is useless if they cannot be ridden. She aims to prove that this type of thinking is false by providing horse therapy services to people. Shannon and her husband, Richard, leads a program named Horse Sense of the Carolinas.
The program deals with horse therapy for numerous conditions like anxiety, grief, substance abuse, eating disorders, PTSD, ADHD, autism, neuromotor disorders, and many more. The program has just celebrated its 10th anniversary last 2013 and is the leading resource for Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning (EAP/L) in Western North Carolina.
Many people have already testified about the program’s effectiveness and their ability to deliver great results.
Source: Horse Sense: Helping horses, helping people
Weary travellers at the San Francisco International Airport can now request to while away time with a black Labrador, Saint Bernard, terriers, and other specially trained therapy dogs. The dogs come from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and are meant to bring happiness to the homesick, the aggravated, or even to people who are just plain bored.
In the three weeks since the program has started, there were no sights or reports of dogfights, allergy attacks from oncoming or outgoing passengers, or chewing of luggage. It was only about the love expressed by the dogs towards tired travellers.
Other airports in the United States that offer the comfort of therapy dogs for passengers are airports in Los Angeles, Florida, and Buffalo, New York.
Source: S.F. airport offers therapy dogs for weary travellers
Sarah Kirsch owns a service dog that goes by the name of Angel. The woman rescued the dog from the Concord-Merrimack County SPCA and enrolled her pet pooch to become a therapy dog in the same organization. The dog is now making regular visits to nursing homes.
The presence of Angel has already left a significant impact to the residents. One resident in fact stated that she did not like visitors but was fond of dogs. As soon as the resident of the nursing home caught a glimpse of the dog, it was if her life gained a new light.
Together, the two have been acting as a service team in seeking to encourage individuals who cannot yet own dogs for themselves.
Source: Therapy Dog, “Angel,” Lives Up To Her Name
Ready Set Ride is a Plainfield non-profit organization that operates mostly on donations. Chris Bajner, the founder, started an online fundraising effort called “Keep The Barn Doors Open” on gofundme.com in an effort to keep operations afloat. The organization uses horse therapy to help disabled children, including her 9-year old son Chris.
The boy is diagnosed with Chromosome 18q Deletion Syndrome and is a rare defect that affects the child in many different ways. The child has a great difficulty in communicating; but with a horse it’s different. Each time the child goes to the stables, his face will light up in excitement.
The horses in the organization provides a means of mobility for children with disorders.
Source: Plainfield woman working to help disabled children
A recent fatal bus crash from the Kuna School District left surviving students traumatized and saddened. The district recruited teachers, parents, and other staff members to help ensure kids that they will be safe when riding a bus. Crisis teams from larger school districts came hours after the crash to provide counselling.
Therapy Dog Inc. also helped out by letting therapy dogs get near traumatized students. Julie Bender, a member of the organization, stated that there is no way you can be sad around a dog. The woman’s German Shepherd, named Hope, helps students relax, take away stress, and relieve them from anxiety.
The crash resulted in the death of Daniel Cook, age 11, four injured, and around 80 grieving students.
Source: Therapy dogs help students after crash
Carol Ouhl had worked with Securian Financial for 50 years. Her previous colleagues stated that she had gone through numerous job positions within the company and it has been an honor working with her. Now, she trains therapy animals to assist nursing homes in giving comfort and peace.
The retired woman has a passion for helping others; she has a German Shepherd which she acquired in the early 1990s which she intended to show in dog-obedience competitions. However, the dog hated competition as it preferred to snuggle and be affectionate to people. Hence, the dog’s purpose came to be bringing comfort and joy to patients currently residing in nursing homes.
The woman says that seeing the interaction between the therapy animals that she trained with the patients is the most rewarding sight she has ever seen.
Source: To keep sharp, retirees need to find a purpose