Make someone happy with Animal-Assisted Therapy!

AAT edited

Have you heard of animal-assisted therapy (AAT)? It’s where animals and humans join forces to provide comfort and happiness to people who may need it. There are tens of thousands of therapy animal teams in the United States and Canada, and it’s not just limited to dogs – teams can include cats, horses, birds, pigs, and even llamas!

The effects of AAT can be almost miraculous. For example, Paulette (human, and one of our fabulous FetchFind team members) and Sophie (Newfoundland) were on a hospice visit, and when they got there the nurses said that it would probably be a waste of time because the patient had refused to speak since her arrival at the facility. But they went into the room anyway, and Paulette said, “If you hate dogs or want me to leave, give me a nod. Otherwise we’re just going to sit right here for a little while.” They all sat in silence for an entire hour, with Sophie at Paulette’s feet. Then they left.

A few days later, Paulette and Sophie returned. When they walked into the room, the patient exclaimed, “The lady with the dog! Come sit down and tell me your name.” No one was more surprised than the nurses at the patient’s enthusiasm, and everyone (including Sophie!) was smiling at the end of the visit.

There are many benefits of becoming a therapy team. The training that you and your dog go through is a great bonding experience. Once qualified, your visits can be the highlight of someone’s week, and can mean the world to people in confined or limited situations.

Think you and your pet have what it takes to become a therapy team? Consider the following before signing on.

Your pet will need to:

  • Be controllable, reliable, and predictable
  • Pass a comprehensive health screening
  • Pass multi-part skill and aptitude tests

You (the human) will need to:

  • Pass multi-part skill and aptitude tests
  • Be comfortable working in environments such as hospitals, assisted-living facilities, retirement homes, and rehab centers
  • Be willing to commit to regular visits at certain facilities

Want to take the next step? Check out the following organizations:

 

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Learn more about AAT on Pets Mean Business! In this podcast, Jamie Migdal talks to Mary Margaret Callahan, the Senior National Director of Program Development at Pet Partners, about the difference between service and therapy animals, the future of animal assisted intervention, and the power of the human-animal bond. 

 

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