A Therapist With A Wagging Tail
What Do Therapy Animals Do?
Sometimes a therapy animal just sits or lies quietly while being petted - listening to story after story about a nursing home resident's former dog. Sometimes a therapy dog will visit an elementary school to help teach children about the humane care of animals, or join in during story time to help relax the group. But, did you know that a therapy animal can help a child learn? A child who has difficulty reading is the perfect candidate to curl up alongside a therapy animal to enjoy reading a good book. Studies show children find the non-judgmental ears of therapy animals the perfect choice to hone and improve their reading skills. A therapy animal may also work with disabled or autistic children. In a hospital setting, a therapy animal might visit patients in pediatrics, oncology, or even hospice centers. Sometimes a hospital will invite a therapy animal to visit the emergency room because of the calming effect on patients, doctors, nurses and staff members working in the high-stress environment.
Healing Effects of Therapy Animals
Did You Know that Medical science shows that interaction with therapy animals can reduce blood pressure; promote physical healing; reduce anxiety, fatigue and depression; and provide emotional support.
Here are just some of the healing effects of therapy animals:
Decrease in stress and anxiety, including that from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Decrease in depression, loneliness and feelings of isolation
Decrease in aggressive behaviors
Increase in socialization with an outward focus, including opportunities for laughter and a sense of happiness and well-being
Increase in mental stimulation, attention skills, and verbal interactions
Increase in spirit, self-esteem, and feeling of acceptance, enabling a patient to further participate in mental and physical therapy, to be more involved in group activities, and to accept social and emotional support
Decrease in blood pressure
Decrease in heart rate
Decrease in the stress hormone cortisol
Increase in hormones associated with health and a feeling of well-being, including beta-endorphin, dopamine, oxytocin, prolactin and serotonin
Increase in level of fitness by providing stimulus for exercise, with improvement in activities in which they were limited
Improvement in fine motor skills, standing balance, wheelchair and other physical skills
MEET THE THERAPY ANIMALS
Oliver - SOPHIE - JACK
Therapy Dog Sophie is an AKC Certified female golden retriever therapy dog who comes from a pure bloodline and is a descendent of guide and emotional support dogs. Sophie has had an extensive amount of training and has experience working with children, adults and seniors. She is frequently invited to schools, hospitals, senior centers and nursing homes to provide love, affection and great companionship.
In 2019, Therapy dog Sophie gave birth to TEN puppies! Yes, I said TEN PUPPIES! (You can watch the puppy birth video on this
YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdkMKdttHQs )
Two of the puppies from her litter were hand selected to join the pet therapy team. Oliver and Jack began their training when they were just 4 weeks old. Together with their mother Sophie, they have provided pet therapy services to many, as well as helped individuals overcome their fear and phobias of dogs due to past trauma.
Therapy dogs are trained to provide affection, comfort and support. Did you know that this specific breed is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. The breed’s friendly, tolerant attitude makes them great family pets, and their intelligence makes them highly capable working dogs. The Golden Retriever's kind expression says it all. This is one of the finest family dogs in the world: cheerful, demonstrative, trustworthy with everyone.
Charlie is a Mini Rex Therapy Bunny. He is the perfect size for children and seniors to handle, weighing a total of 4 pounds. His tranquil personality makes him a great addition to our therapy program. Charlie has a coat that is smooth and velvet-like. The first time you touch a Mini Rex there is no mistaking their coats. They are one of the most plush and luxurious coats one can touch. Mini Rex are undeniably one of the softest, cutest, small bunnies available, which accounts for their popularity. There is something wonderful that happens when one strokes that soft, plush fur and takes in that cute little expression. It’s bunny therapy!
Another winning aspect of the Mini Rex is the breed’s appealingly sweet disposition, which further cements this rabbit’s excellence as a therapy pet. The breed has a very even temperament and enjoys being gently handled. It has been found that compared to some of the other rabbit breeds, Mini Rex rabbits seem to be calmer when being handled. Most Mini Rex enjoy the attention of humans and will eagerly come to the front of their cage to have their face and ears gently rubbed.
So, when you combine their endearing personalities, their superbly soft coats, and their appealing size, it’s easy to see why a bunny like Charlie is the perfect friend to all.
Therapy Parrot Peter is an Umbrella Cockatoo who descended from the tropical rainforest in Indonesia. He is gentle, docile, and sweet-tempered by nature, making him well suited to be a Therapy Parrot. Umbrella Cockatoos are known to be one of the most affectionate parrots you will find, a trait they carry over from the wild. Peter is known to make strong bonds with people who interact with him. He is smart, playful, and sometimes mischievous just to get you to laugh. He enjoys it most when you sing and dance for him and he even might sing and dance along.
Therapy Parrot Marley is a Blue and Gold Macaw. Macaws are a force to be reckoned with. Everything about them is big, from their voices to their attitudes. Colorful and often loud, they call attention to themselves even when quiet. Therapy Parrot Marley may be even-tempered but that doesn't mean he doesn’t have an energetic side to him. He is curious and loves to explore and play with anything in his environment. He definitely has a bit of a sense of humor, playing small practical jokes to get a reaction from new visitors. It only takes one gentle kiss from his giant beak to open the stoniest of hearts. Blue and Gold Macaws are known to be the gentle giants of the macaw species which makes Marley a great addition to the pet therapy team!
Charlotte is a Mexican red-knee tarantula and this species is known to be one of the most docile and calm tarantulas. Due to this spider's docile nature, colorful appearance, large size and long life it is a great fit to be a part of the pet therapy team.
On another note, many people suffer from arachnophobia (fear of spiders) People with severe arachnophobia may have such an extreme aversion to spiders that they may be afraid to go into their basement or garage because a spider may be present. If they encounter a spider, they may actually leave the house rather than deal with it.
When it causes such anxiety that it stops us from participating in activities that we want or need to do, or manifests itself in such a way that it can be physically and mentally debilitating, we know our fear of spiders has become irrational. If you suffer from Arachnophobia (fear of spiders or any insects) Lets talk! You don’t have to live in fear any longer.
Therapy Kitten Milo is a Male Ragdoll. The Ragdoll breed is known to be gentle, calm and sociable. Affectionate without being demanding, Ragdolls have an almost dog-like devotion to their owners and new visitors. Ragdolls thrive on human companionship, and, unlike some other felines, they love being held. In fact, the breed supposedly got its name because early litters of the docile, friendly cat became limp and floppy like rag dolls when they were picked up. Milo is friendly and attuned to emotional needs, a characteristic that makes him a perfect therapy animal.