By Wednesday, May 9, 2018 10 No tags Permalink

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) –  the pawfect pet therapy job for Jaxson…


AAT is pet therapy involving and using animals as a form of treatment. It’s another way to assist patients with different disabilities through their social, emotional or cognitive functions.


are trained to provide affection and a sense of comfort to individuals in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools hospices, people with learning difficulties, and stressful situations, such as disaster areas. Source: Feinberg Consulting

For more than 4 years Harley’s been working as a therapy dog. Reading programs and assisted living facilities were his “occupational’ choices in Virginia. That changed when we moved to South Carolina.

Now he’s thriving at the hospital. Harley visits both adults and children. Spends quality time in procedures or ICU.  Wherever he’s needed – he’s there – to comfort those he’s around…

Laying still on a bed, pretending to be a stuffed animal, fits Harley’s pawsonality! Not Jaxson!

However, watching Jaxson interact with my brother during his chemo treatments convinced me he was “magic medicine.” Harold smiles and comes alive when he’s around…

Jaxson is more than ready for a pet therapy job, I just need to find the right fit!


There are three unique/different types of therapy.

  • Therapeutic Visitationhousehold pets (like Harley) come with their pet parents to visit hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities. Visits from these dogs can brighten someones day, lift their spirits and motivate them with the goal of getting well and going home.
  • Animal Assisted Therapydogs assist physical and occupational therapists meet goals critical to the person’s individual recovery. Many times AAT dogs are used in the beginning of a rehabilitation session by pulling, pushing, or playing with the patient. This helps the person gain mobility in their limbs, increase motor control, along with hand-eye coordination.

Video footage of Jaxson and my daughter playing around in the gym,  reinforces my belief he could excel in AAT

  • Facility Therapydogs in nursing homes that are trained to keep those suffering from Alzheimer’s or other mental illnesses from getting into trouble. Typically these dogs are specially trained. Often they are handled by a trained staff member and live at the facility. 

Before he can fly solo, Jaxson has to finish his observations. We’re scheduled to finish before the end of the month.

MUSC has a few places where I’d like for him to work, and of course I will keep you posted about his progress.

UCLA Health offers a list of research findings regarding  Animal Assisted Therapy  and what science says about it for both mental and physical health. #interestingread

Sometimes petting a dog is all the therapy you need ❤

  • Monika & Sam
    May 9, 2018

    So sweet to see your boy on the bed of a patient. Sam is a notorious bed hog so we tend to just allow his front paws when he visits.

    • Cathy Bennett
      May 18, 2018

      I’m trying to work with Jaxson and front paws only because he’s over the bed weight restriction. It’s not an easy thing to train him to do – instinctively he wants the rest of his body to follow like when he’s a t home. I may resort to him sitting next to the beds instead.

  • Dashlilly
    May 10, 2018

    Jaxson has a long attention span!! Neither Dash or Lilly would play with anyone or anything for that long! You’re right — Jaxson has got a talent that you need to tap. I look forward to hearing about his career in AAT! Harley is beyond sweet with his tenderness.

    • Cathy Bennett
      May 18, 2018

      Jaxson was a-mazing Deirdre yesterday when he sat in a chair next to the sweetest 92 year old lady and allowed her to rub his head and talk to him like he was a little boy. The entire PICU was in tears because they were so afraid for this lady to have surgery in the first place at her age, but to be so alert and responsive so quickly afterwards was simply a blessing…. I love having them in this role.

  • Emma
    May 11, 2018

    Hope Jaxson can wrap up his training so you can get him working. It’s great to be able to do something with your dogs that you all love.

    • Cathy Bennett
      May 18, 2018

      Emma, he has only one more observation exam – this one is at a non-clinical location (Home Depot) next Saturday. Then he will be on his own. He’s doing quite well and loves all the attention and treats from the hospital staff. Therapy work for the Boys is like Nose work for you girls. It’s something both pup and parent love to do!

  • Shadow and Ducky's Mom
    May 12, 2018

    Aw, your boys are great! Harley with his gentle patience and Jaxson with his LONG attention span are perfect for therapy work. (The only thing that keeps Ducky’s attention for that long is a squirrel!)

    • Cathy Bennett
      May 13, 2018

      Then Ducky would have an absoDOODLEtute blast here in Charleston. The ratio of squirrels to humans is crazy. They are all over here!

  • Jan K
    May 14, 2018

    I have no doubt you will figure out exactly where Jaxson fits in, and he will excel at it! ♥

    • Cathy Bennett
      May 18, 2018

      I’m working on it JanK – working on it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *