Pet Therapy is a program in which volunteers bring their dogs to a designated residential healthcare facility to provide interaction with the residents or patients.
Our volunteers visit the residents in common recreational areas and in their individual rooms where they assist their four-legged therapists 'work their magic.'
Research has shown that one of the most serious problems of the elderly is loneliness. In pet therapy we try to provide the companionship and affection of our dogs to help reduce the feeling of loneliness and isolation.
National studies have confirmed the therapeutic effects of animals upon humans. Pet therapy visitations provide a warm and comforting presence, patient listeners, and a relaxing interlude to residents of healthcare facilities. Stroking a pet can aid in relaxation which relieves stress and anxiety and lowers blood pressure. Petting also encourages the use of hands and arms, stretching and turning to run their hands over the soft, warm silky fur of our hounds. Residents become more active and responsive both during and after a visit. Our visits offer entertainment and a welcome distraction from pain, depression, and the routine of their environment. We often provide a renewal of friendships and awaken memories of a loved pet.
Conversations are stimulated with staff and residents about our dogs. Quiet, submissive patients often "come to life' as we enter the room and talk about us long after we're gone.
Greyhounds are perfect therapy dogs due to their outgoing and friendly nature, gentle and docile disposition, and quiet manner. Their tall stature makes them easily accessible to the bedridden and residents in wheelchairs. During a visit a group of greys will work together as professionals in a calm and quiet, well-mannered team cheerfully searching out the next resident to visit and to provide love to. Their reward is a gentle touch or a scratch behind the ear or even a biscuit once in a while.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF HANDLERS
As representatives of Greyhound Friends we provide a service to hospitals and other residential healthcare facilities. We must follow the rules and regulations set forth by each individual establishment that we visit.
Patient confidentiality is maintained at all times. Our therapy dogs must be current on all immunizations and records must be provided to each location to be visited. They also must be clean and well-groomed and free of all internal and external parasites. Characteristics of good therapy dogs are willingness to approach people, well-behaved around people and other dogs, calm, tolerant and friendly, not fearful in close quarters and around wheelchairs and other medical devices, and able to cope with sudden movements and loud voices and noises.
How great it is to hear from you and to be asked to share the mutual love for our dogs. What a wonderful job you are doing! Not only do you give us, who can't enjoy the usual love from our pet friends, the additional real therapy of lowering high blood pressure, unsolicited affection, comfort of the gentle nudges of an affectionate nose or more important, the delicious pleasure of just being - loved!
When person decides to enter a retirement or nursing home, we quickly have to adjust - bend, not break - for it is a real change from being a "pilot of our own ship", so to speak. The love of a cherished pet is generally the first thing we have to deny ourselves. We understand, but it sure is hard to bear when we have always had this tender love at our beck and call. It is through the caring efforts of folks like you who really lessen the loss in our lives and we love you for it. All of life has many important parts and when we have to omit some of them, we don't always recognize where emptiness is coming from.
As adults who are actually assuming the role of "child" once again, we are usually so busy trying to keep our heads above water that we don't realize the loss of our beloved pets. Thank you so much for bringing these sweet, precious dogs into our lives. We cannot always express ourselves, but believe me, we always feel so much better after having a visit. God bless you for your compassion and understanding. This will help you walk in our shoes when the time comes!
Much love to all those who willing donate time to this project. You are doing a marvelous job! Hopefully, whatever input I can give will help. May many more join us!!!!!!
North Carolina Pet Therapy Groups
Karen Ferguson in Charlotte, NC area:
Helping Paws of North Carolina is a not-for-profit group based in Raleigh that brings the proven benefits of pet therapy to residents and patients of local healthcare facilities. Launched in 2000 with a handful of retired racing Greyhounds, Helping Paws now includes dogs of all breeds and is approximately 30 members strong. To get involved in this rewarding program, visit their new website at Helping P.A.W.S. International P. A. W. S. = Pets & Assistance Dogs Who Serve. Our website address is: www.helpingpawsintl.org
ABOUT Helping P.A.W.S.
Helping P.A.W.S. is a not-for-profit, animal-assisted therapy organization. We provide animal-assisted therapy (AAT), animal-assisted therapy activities (AATA), and -on a limited basis-- owner-trained companion assistance dogs. We are composed entirely of volunteer, and while we accept ALL Breeds of dogs, our membership is about 60% greyhounds and their owners.
Helping P.A.W.S. was started in September 2000 by greyhound owners from the Raleigh, N. C. Optimist Park and Cedar Hills Greyhound Playgroups as a division of GFNC GreytTherapy.
Helping P.A.W.S. of North Carolina was incorporated on April 18, 2002 by co-founders Jeani Gray and Denise Hutson. Helping P.A.W.S. was lead by its greyhound fur-therapists to win:
The North Carolina Governor's
2004 Volunteer of the Award for Outstanding Community Service
& The Wake County Commissioners 2004 Volunteer of the Year Award
Helping P.A.W.S. offers a 20-week therapy animal-assistance certification training program. Our assistance dog teams take this program as their base but have additional training based the tasks the owners needs the dogs to perform.
Helping P.A.W.S. also offers a canine reading assistance program to local schools, libraries, and adults with special needs. The program, called B.A.R.K.S. © (Bonding, Animals, Reading, Kids, and Safety), is designed to help children & adults develop a love for reading, over-come learning blocks, and build self-esteem. The program also teaches pet safety and care, along with interpersonal communication skills.
Greyhounds are the soul of our organization. If new greyhound parents in the Triangle area want to see their new fur-kids shine while making a positive contribution to the community and promoting greyhound rescue then they should contact Helping Paws.
Helping P.A.W.S. Contact Information is:
Denise is also Founder of the North Florida Center for Animal Psychology which specializes greyhound psychology and behavioral problems.
For information or questions regarding our training program, contact Helping P.A.W.S. Training Coordinators. The contact emails for Helping Paws are:
Pet Therapy in Charlotte
Please see our web site at http://ptincpettherapy.shutterfly.com/. PTInc in the Carolinas hosts numerous monthly pet therapy visits at nursing homes, hospitals, adult daycare centers, etc. We also participate in the B.E.A.M. pet therapy program http://www.becauseeveryanimalmatters.com/index.html. B.E.A.M. helps children improving reading skills with the use of therapy dogs.
Although our group started with greyhounds, we now welcome all dog breeds and mixes. Participating dogs must be registered therapy dogs or working to become registered. Three members of our group are Tester/Observers for Therapy Dogs Incorporated Therapy Dogs, Inc. Therapy Dogs Incorporated is very greyhound-friendly. Our T/Os will be happy to guide you through the simple process.
About Therapy Dogs Incorporated
Therapy Dogs Incorporated (TDInc) is a national non-profit organization that provides registration, support and insurance for members who are involved in volunteer animal assisted activities.
TDInc registers teams for pet therapy. A team is one person and one dog. The process begins with a brief test to determine if your dog is calm, well-behaved and friendly with other dogs and strangers. Canine Good Citizenship or training classes is not required. After completing the test, teams participate in at least three pet therapy visits with a Tester/Observer. Observed visits help the team get accustomed to doing pet therapy in a real environment and identifies any areas that need work.
T/Os usually perform the test immediately prior to a scheduled pet therapy visit, either individually or in very small groups. After passing the test you join the group for your first observed visit.
For more information contact: Tracy Eyre
See http://therapydogs.com/ for more information. Click on How To Become A Member.
What to bring:
Two copies of your dog's current vaccine records. (If you plan to bring more than one dog, please bring vaccine records for each dog.)
Do's and Don'ts for Pet Therapy Volunteers:
1. Always knock on a resident's door to get their attention before entering a room.
2. Always let residents know that you have a dog with you and ask permission to enter the room with the dog.
3. Before approaching a resident, ask him/her if they like dogs. Some people are afraid of dogs.
4. Always address residents by their surname. For example, "Good morning, Mrs. Johnson." (If you don't know their surname, address them by "sir" or "ma'am.")
5. Always treat residents with the respect that they deserve. For example, never treat a resident like they are a baby. Do not speak to him/her using a baby tone.
6. Always allow time for a resident to respond verbally or non-verbally when you speak to them, even if he/she is confused and unable to respond in an intelligible manner.
7. Always ask permission of the facility to photograph any residents.
1. Never assist/transfer a resident into a bed or chair.
2. If you find a resident that has fallen, do not help the resident to get up. Immediately get the nursing staff to assist them.
3. If a resident asks for assistance to the bathroom, inform the resident that you are a volunteer and are not trained to help in this way. Immediately get the nursing staff to assist them.
4. Never give candy, gum or drink to a resident without getting permission from their nurse or from the Recreational Therapy staff.
5. Never accept gifts other than candy from the residents. Some, unknowingly, might try to give away their valuable possessions.