By Sunday, December 18, 2016 11 No tags Permalink

Animal Assisted Therapy –

is a formal therapeutic procedure that uses a well-trained animal and its trainer in a service environment, mainly in mental health facilities, nursing homes, and hospitals.

That’s a direct quote from the thesis written, presented, and defended last week by a lovely young lady Harley had the pleasure of working with for six months at the Children’s Hospital.



A Senior in a Magnet School who chose to measure and record –

  • heart rate
  • respiratory rate
  • blood pressure
  • and pain

– before and after animal intervention.

Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a type of therapy that involves animals as a form of treatment. The goal of AAT is to improve a patient’s social, emotional, or cognitive functioning. Advocates state that animals can be useful for educational and motivational effectiveness for participants. Source: Wiki

Sarah shadowed Harley (and Lucky) faithfully, recording the the effectiveness of animal assisted therapy in psychological aspects.

I was overwhelmed when Sarah emailed – inviting us to attend her thesis presentation –

The Physical and Psychological Effects of Animal Assisted Therapy on Hospitalized Children


Harley was pleasantly surprised to see her again…


It was wonderful to meet her entire family! I’d heard so many great stories about them as she and I walked the halls of the hospital – week after week…


Harley met one of the teachers.

He didn’t have an apple – so he gave her a kiss…


As soon as Harley entered the classroom, he made new friends…



Animal Assisted Therapy has positive effects on both physical and psychological health parameters.

  • Physical – Successfully lowered the average heart rate, blood pressure, and pain levels. 
  • Psychological – Patients became calmer, happier, experienced relief from pain, while parents saw excitement in their children enjoying the dog’s presence.

These children aren’t in pain, but they are certainly enjoying a little “pet therapy” in the school hallway…


It was humbling to sit and listen to how others view the work of dogs like Harley in hospitals. He’s such a joy in my life, I cannot help but continue to share him as much as I can.

Lucky and the director of the Pet Therapy program (Al Hoffman) were also there…



to Sarah and her family for thinking enough to include us in her special day.

I fought back the tears as I listened to her speak of Harley and the difference he made with those children.

Harley was tickled to Doodle when she presented him with a very special “thank you” gift for all his help…


Sarah will never know the impact “she” has made in my life. Everyday as we step out of that hospital elevator Harley and I will skip through those halls ready to make a difference in a child’s day…


Congratulations Sarah! We’ll never forget you!

To make a difference in someone life, you don’t have to be brilliant, beautiful, or perfect, you just have to care ❤️



  • Emma
    December 19, 2016

    It is wonderful that you found something you really enjoy doing and it gives Harley a job too. We are all therapists for Mom, but sports are our thing. Nice you can make a difference in the lives of others.

  • Greg Reid
    December 19, 2016

    Such a BEAUTIFUL story. Harley is a jewel for what he does for us humans. He is a DIFFERENCE MAKER in so many lives! I am always filled with joy after reading about his accomplishments. I am very glad I got to meet him.

  • Lee J. Bennett Jr.
    December 19, 2016

    Harley continues to show up and show out!

  • All Things Collie
    December 19, 2016

    We have only been doing therapy dog visits for a couple months now, but we find it to be so rewarding!

  • Monika & Sam
    December 19, 2016

    I can’t imagine anything more rewarding than this work for both patients and caregiving staff. They all love the dog visits and I know their lives were touched even if just for a few minutes in a super pawsitive way.

  • Two French Bulldogs
    December 19, 2016

    Its amazing the impact therapy dogs have on clients
    Not Naughty,
    Lily & Edward

  • Jan K
    December 21, 2016

    What a wonderful young lady, and how special to have helped her with this. I love that she included you and Harley in her special day. You have a lot to be proud of with the important work you do!

  • Pedro & Alessandra
    December 23, 2016

    Bravo Harley and Cathy! What a beautiful job you do and congratulations to your friend Sarah!
    The joy that our pups bring us should be shared with the world, especially with people that need a smile in the middle of pain or worries.
    Happy, happy post!

  • Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom
    December 23, 2016

    That’s wonderful! How sweet of Sarah to include you and Harley in her special day!

  • Cathy Armato
    January 1, 2017

    This is such a fantastic post Cathy! As one half of a Therapy Dog team I’m always happy to hear about scientific findings that prove what we dog people already know – that dogs can make a positive difference in a human’s health! What a great opportunity you had here. Love the photos too.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 9, 2017

      Hey Cathy – the entire presentation was fascinating, and afterwards she gave us a copy of her thesis and I actually read her findings from cover to cover. We both are in for a treat as we watch this pet therapy program grow by leaps and bounds in the next couple of years. Simply fascinating.

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