Saturday, July 25, 2009
Everyone's Best Friend
My daughter's swimming instructor recently took temporary ownership of a Guide Dog puppy in training. The little pup came along to the pool and I was fortunate enough to get a cuddle. I absolutely love animals, in particular dogs, and I have a special interest in Therapy Dogs.
Guide Dogs are well known to the general community, and most people are aware that these dogs are great companions for people who have a visual impairment. The many other benefits of dog ownership and the use of dogs in therapeutic situations, are not as well known.
Most dog owners will tell you that their pets are great company, good for keeping away unwanted guests, great at eating food thrown on the floor, and provide motivation for getting some exercise. These benefits are fairly obvious. What you may not realise, is that there are also health benefits to dog ownership. There has been some excellent research conducted by psychologists and other health professionals, that has found that pets can improve your mood and help depression and lonliness, reduce stress and lower blood pressure, and promote a healthier lifestyle.
Because of these benefits, dogs have been introduced into therapeutic situations. They can be used to provide motivation for children with movement difficulties, or act as a calming influence for people who may have an anxiety disorder. Read this abstract from an article to find out how a dog helped a child with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
In addition to being used in therapy settings, dogs have also been trained as Assistance Dogs. These animals are able to help people who have a disability that prevents them from independently completing some tasks such as opening doors and retrieving items.
If you are interested in reading more, or in helping to support one of these fantastic causes, please click on these links: