THERAPY DOGS HANDLING STRESS

By Sunday, January 28, 2018 10 No tags Permalink

Recently I’ve been searching for answers to a few questions pertaining to therapy dogs handling stress. Harley’s headed back to work after a lengthy hiatus – and he’s going to be involved in a few different areas…

THERAPY DOGS HANDLING STRESS

When the environmental allergies kicked into full gear mid 2017 – he was miserable. He scratched and gnawed non-stop, smelled like a goat and looked like he hadn’t met a brush in years. He pretty much licked himself raw under the arm pits and his eyes were always draining because of the allergens.

I thought it was best to remove him from the hospital schedule until we could fix the problem.

No one wants a dog who looks sick on a patients bed and I didn’t want to compromise his immune system anymore than it had already been.

Back to himself both inside and out – it’s time to get back to work!…

THERAPY DOGS HANDLING STRESS

FAST FORWARD TO 2018 –

Most of his assignments have been with children in either pre or post op, PED’s Cardiology, and anywhere else they ask him to go. Before his set-back, I had multiple conversations about branching out into new areas in the hospital. Harley seems to be a good fit for pet therapy. He adapted quickly, and understands his purpose for each visit.

Pet Therapy is becoming more of a standard practice than ever before in major hospitals. The use of a therapy animal is changing what’s possible in medical care every single day.

NEW AREAS OF CONCENTRATION –

Beginning in February, Harley will try two different areas within the hospital –

  • Palliative Care a specialized medical care for people with serious illness.
  • Out Patient Cancer Carevisiting patients receiving chemotherapy treatment.

Patients with serious illnesses sometimes have lengthy stays in the hospital, and (on occasion) some of those patients will never leave the hospital. Pet therapy’s goal is to try and improve quality of life for both the patient and the family – even in the difficult situations.

There aren’t many therapy dogs trained for palliative care, and we live less than 2 miles from the hospital. Our close proximity will allow us to get there (in a crisis situation) within minutes if need be.

For me – having Harley spend time with cancer patients receiving chemo treatment is very personal and special. Our daughter Tiffany would have loved a friendly four legged visit when she underwent chemotherapy. My brother is having weekly treatments now, and if he lived closer – he would welcome a visit.

DO THEY EXPERIENCE STRESS? –

To date there is no reliable data that show therapy dogs get stressed during therapeutic sessions with people. All dogs may go to heaven, but all dogs aren’t going to express stress in the same manner. Pawhaps that’s why there’s not much data out there. #justaguess 

Based on limited written information, discussions with medical and veterinarian professionals, and much prayer – we will proceed with this new endeavor. Harley (like most dogs) feeds off of my aura and he brings me great comfort. Together I think we will be fine.

My plan is to watch his body language closely and respond accordingly. He is doodle*tastic at spreading tail wagging happiness to those who aren’t feeling their best…

THERAPY DOGS HANDLING STRESS

On Monday – think Pawsitive ❤️

10 Comments
  • Emma
    January 29, 2018

    So happy you no longer smell like a goat, because goats are pretty smelly! Enjoy getting back to work.

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 4, 2018

      You got that right Emma! It was awful – but thank the doodle it’s behind us!

  • Shadow and Ducky's Mom
    January 29, 2018

    Oh, I know you’ll both be glad to get back to your pet therapy work! Glad that Harley’s allergies are under control and that he’s feeling (and smelling!) better so he can get back to work! I have a feeling you’re already great at reading his body language and will pick up on it again quickly once you’re doing it more regularly.

    I found that keeping a journal of Ducky’s snarky actions/reactions toward Shadow last year really helped me learn to pick up on her body language much faster. It made me much more observant of subtle signs, too. Now that she’s calmed down some, I don’t need to make entries in that journal as often as I used to. And Shadow sometimes alerts me to Ducky’s mood, too, by moving further away from Ducky.

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 29, 2018

      A Pet Therapy Journal – that sounds marvelous! Thanks my friend…

  • Monika & Sam
    January 29, 2018

    I’m not sure therapy dogs struggle with ‘stress’ per se, but they definitely become affected with the energy they pick up visiting patients. I recently began learning Reiki just for that reason-to help clear the air and improve his energy levels following our hospital visits. We’ll see how treatment works after our next sessions in February. All best wishes with palliative care-it has been some of the most rewarding work we’ve done and I’m sure your boy will be completely pawsome at it.

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 4, 2018

      Wow Monika – what a blessing to know I have someone I can talk to that can relate. I will definitely reach out once I get started.

  • Sand Spring Chesapeakes
    January 29, 2018

    Good luck to you and Harley getting back into it, I’m sure you both will be fine and bless you for doing therapy work.

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 4, 2018

      Thanks my friend – we are looking forward to getting back.

  • Lisa @Petoppia
    January 30, 2018

    Awesomely written, and simply described. Thanks for an informative article about dog stress. It’s a really valuable post for every pet owner like me.

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 4, 2018

      Thanks Lisa! Glad you enjoyed reading it. Come back soon!

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