As dog owners, we truly understand their ability to help us cope with the harsh realities of life. When life gets hard for us, we always have our dogs to turn to for positive reinforcement. Sometimes it’s as simple as hugging our dogs and our cloudy day turns to sunshine. We understand the innate power of the dog, their need to help us and their unwavering support for our wellbeing.
So, it’s no surprise to dog owners to hear about hospitals utilizing pet therapy to help patients recover from illness and injury. To dog owners this is simple to understand, when life gets tough it helps to have a dog in your corner. And now hospitals around the country are starting to understand what we already knew.
Pet Therapy is proving to be a powerful tool for recovery, helping patients find the motivation to tackle the difficulties associated with physical therapy. These therapy dogs help patients find the will to move around, there’s just something about a wagging tail that literally moves their feet. The dog acts as a perfect, non-judging physical therapy companion for individuals undergoing recovery. They help to melt away the stress and anxiety associated with the recovery process and in turn speed up the recovery process.
And the results with kids are even more impressive. The Children’s Therapy Center in northern Virginia employs a 2-year-old French Mastiff named Atlas to work with children recovering or overcoming physical limitations. For 8-year-old Jonathan Ingersoll who is battling cerebral palsy and seizures, Atlas acts as a motivator and partner in his daily recovery activities. Jonathan is usually restricted to a wheelchair, but when working with Atlas, Jonathan can walk on his own with the dog’s help. “Johnathan is like a whole different person when Atlas is there. He’s very focused, and he’s just very motivated to do things that he normally isn’t motivated to do,” says his mother, Jen Ingersoll. “Atlas changes his whole outlook on therapy.”
And Jonathan’s story is just the tip of the iceberg, the field of pet therapy is expanding each year. Hospitals around the world are starting to take a serious look at the benefits that therapy dogs can have for recovering patients. Are we as dog owners shocked? No, we are not, we understand the motivation our dogs bring to our lives. There’s just something about a wagging tail and an adventurous soul that makes us want to conquer our obstacles in life.