18 Jan 2016
Although it is difficult to quantify the benefits of dog therapy with scientific studies, the magical interaction between the animal and the person doesn’t go unnoticed.Tears that disappear, sad faces that turn into smiles, inactive hands that caress the soft fur, the silence that transforms into a conversation of whispers for the dog, you see it all.
Dogs transmit happiness, unconditional love, affection and endless patience. They can have a strong power to connect with the residents that don’t show interest in any other therapy. Maybe this is why they are not seen as threats, but as silent beings that transmit love and attention.
In fact, there is no better therapy than love for a dog.
In the presence of Gala, I have had the opportunity to see the faces of the residents change, to observe how they remembered dogs of their pasts, their pets they took care of and loved.
I thought of how a simple look from a dog can evoke so much happiness in a group of elderly. Gala was that connection to the past, family, children and grandchildren…
The dogs are a great example of camaraderie, loyalty and trust. They are dependent, weak and eternally young at heart, although with us for only a short time. They even remind us of the importance to love unconditionally regardless of daily pressure and limitations that come with age.
Her presence helps improve the mental and physical health of those who visit with her and aids in their longevity.
Animals have been known to provide positive strength during recuperation. They have a calming and therapeutic effect. They help people cope with emotional problems related to illnesses. They also offer physical contact, something an older person often misses in the life.
Dogs can evoke memories from past pets. The best thing is they distract people from problems and especially in the elderly they can reduce feelings of loneliness and boredom.
We all benefit from the mere presence of a dog, they help maintain a positive outlook and this is key to good health, happiness and remaining youthful.
They “need to be needed and to touch and be touched. Touching is one of our primary needs when we’re born and one of our last needs before we go”.
Dogs love almost everyone without judging and erase language barriers. They often notice illnesses and sadness and they WANT to offer company and comfort, they are intuitive and compassionate.
It is always moving to see how they detect sadness… They are an antidote for depression and an easy medication to take. Living in a residence can get boring sometimes and a visit from a dog breaks the daily routine and stimulates the mind in a remarkable way.
In general the elderly benefit from animals! Some of the benefits of dog therapy are::
· They bring happiness and smiles within a daily routine.
· They give people something to do, talk about, think about someone other than themselves.
· They are a source of contact and affiliation.
· They boost the communication among colleagues.
· They boost morale.
· They stimulate exercise and activity.
· They help cope with illness, loss and depression.
· They reduce levels of stress.
· They remind residents of their past pets.