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…
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!…
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 Care – visiting 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…
On Monday – think Pawsitive ❤️