The benefits of animal therapy
Animal-assisted therapy is often used to provide comfort to patients or as part of a treatment or rehabilitation program. For example, if you are recovering from a stroke, a physical therapist may use a dog to help you stand up and walk. You may be asked to stand while petting or brushing a dog that is sitting on a table. Or the therapist may ask you to walk with the dog.
Animals can also be used to:
- Provide mental stimulation to residents of long-term care facilities
- Serve as a comfort during physical exams or other medical procedures
- Help people feel more comfortable during counseling sessions
- Help children improve reading skills by reading to a therapy animal
Animal therapy in action at North Star Lodge
Tootie, a shiba inu, is a certified therapy dog and has been working at North Star Lodge Cancer Center with her owner, Michelle Hacker, for close to a year.
Patients say that when Tootie walks into the room, the atmosphere changes. People’s faces light up, and you can hear the joy in their voices as they say, “Yea, Tootie is here!”
Sometimes people are too anxious, scared or in too much pain to communicate well with other people. When Tootie is there, the patients smile and pet her. She helps them relax. Tootie mends hearts so the doctors at North Star Lodge can mend patients.
Sources: American Humane Association; American Veterinary Medical Association; Pet Partners