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Why Therapy Animals Work

Therapy dogs work, because we all – as the saying goes – get by with a little help from our friends.  It may be a cliché and it may be a good basis for a song, but it also works.  Moreover, recent research shows that those who happen to have the companionship of furry friends have better medical outcomes.  The research among chemotherapy patients demonstrated that patients who had the benefit of a dog with them during their treatments scored statistically higher on measures of “social well-being.”

In my experience companion animals in assistive care settings make a difference for all the residents who get the benefit of a pet or a stroke of the furry worker dog.  On my son’s campus, they also bring therapy dogs on the rounds during finals week.  But do not just take the scientists’ word for it; dogs are mammals, and mammals emote.  I know you can talk to some people who claim their pets know what they are thinking or when they are having a “bad day.”  We don’t want to project too much intellectual capacity to our four-legged friends, but mammals emote.  Reptiles and amphibians don’t.  I understand that it has something to do with the physiology of their brains.

If you have a pet these holidays – and it is well-behaved around strangers – don’t hesitate to share the warmth…even if the warmth also brings a bit of residual fur along with it.   Everyone benefits when you share that love…and I believe even the dog will benefit.  Speaking of which…the picture that accompanies today’s post is of a Jack Russel mix.  The reason is that we have an orphan within our service community.  Her name is Annabelle, and she was orphaned just this week after a number of years of faithful service to her master.  She is only seven years old, and if you or someone you know could give her your love, she promises she will return the favor.  She is only 15 pounds and she runs on regular fuel, so you will get lots of great miles per ounce.  Please reach out to me or click on the link for info@creativecaremanagement.com .  What better time of the year than now to share the love?

Have a great holiday season and a very happy new year!

Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  Please email your questions to info@creativecaremanagement.com.

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