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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Therapy Dogs: How Dogs Help Us Heal

Bristol looking sharp in his official vest

It has been quite some time since our last post.  We hope you are enjoying your summer as much as us!

Before we retire our Pup-of-the-Month, Bristol, we wanted to honor him with a post about therapy dogs and their miraculous ability to provide love and healing.  The bond between humans and dogs is truly amazing and that is what we wish to celebrate in this post.

Photo Credit:  Jax Custom Photography
Bristol on the job AND having fun!

Bristol began his journey as a puppy.  At just 9 months of age, he completed the 10-step test to become certified as a Canine Good Citizen.  This certification focuses on training and developing positive behaviors such as, successfully responding to commands from his handler, demonstrating polite and calm behavior with strangers and in crowds, and interacting positively with other dogs.  After completing his certification, Bristol began visiting an assisted living facility in his community.  His sweet nature and loving demeanor was bringing so much joy to others, that his owners, Susan and Jack, decided to expand his experience and their visits to local hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and other organizations throughout their community.  Bristol has since completed his "Canine Masters Degree" by also achieving certification with Therapy Dogs, Inc. and Bright and Beautiful.

Photo Credit: Jax Custom Photograpy
Bristol giving kisses

What is pet therapy?

Pet therapy is the incorporation of animals into various settings and activities to help people heal and better manage difficult situations and health issues.  Pets will often visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and community organizations to interact directly with people.  They bring hope and comfort to the people they visit and take their minds off of life's challenges, even if only for a short period of time.  Studies have shown tremendous benefits in patients with cancer, heart disease, and mental health conditions.  For example, UCLA Medical Center published a study showing that a 12-minute visit with an assisted-therapy dog, "improved cardiopulmonary pressures, neurohormone levels, and anxiety in patients hospitalized with heart failure.American Journal of Critical Care, 2007 (

Common Benefits of Pet Therapy:

  • Reduces depression and anxiety
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Increases a sense of calm while releasing endorphins
  • Creates and increases motivation for faster recovery
  • Increases socialization
  • Provides comfort
We hope you found this post inspiring and will consider volunteering your dog or yourself to help provide healing and hope to others.


A & A