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As Close To A Miracle As I have Seen With Pet Therapy

Posted Jan 12 2010 9:42am

I have heard all the claims about how pet therapy can produce amazing results, especially with  seniors, but when I actually witnessed an extraordinary event take place right in from of me, I became a believer.   I take my dog Striker to visit with our home care clients in South Jersey as well as local  nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  It definitely makes the seniors happy, and I can see how it would help prevent depression amongst those who are isolated and have little outside contact. We always get huge smiles, laughter and sincere appreciation when we make our visits, but none of this would qualify as miraculous, in fact, it is rather expected.

That all changed for me when I visited with a group of seniors receiving physical therapy at an assisted living facility in Voorhees NJ.  We were doing our normal visit and everyone (including the staff)  loved having the dog there.  During our visit, they wheeled in an elderly woman to get her physical therapy and when she saw Striker, she developed a smile that went from one end of her face to the other. Not only did she seem very happy, but she also started talking to the dog, just as many of the other seniors and therapists had been doing. To me this all seemed very ordinary, but to the therapist, is was an amazing event occurring right before our eyes. Apparently this woman had been completely non-verbal since she had been placed at that facility and was thought to have lost her ability for speech.   The therapist who was helping the woman began calling to all of the other therapist to take a look and it was then when I realized something special was happening.

When initially evaluating pet therapy for seniors and trying to decide whether or not to add this to our in-home care services in South Jersey, I had read numerous stories of special things happening with dog visits. Many articles made reference to Alzheimer’s patients who responded to pet visits when they have been completely incoherent with human visitors, including family.

I was thrilled when this personally happened to me and it definitely confirmed that we were adding a valuable service to our home care clients by offering free pet therapy visits.

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