Having a pet dog has been proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and genuinely improve the quality of life of their owners. I can attest to this from first hand experience. My very own dog, Vegas, helped get my life back on track after I went through multiple brain surgeries and radiation therapy. I was able to focus on helping him and care for him, which really took my mind off of any difficulties I may have been going through on any given day during my recovery process.
Eventually, Vegas and I began to team up and do therapy work for children with developmental disorders, and senior citizens who simply needed a companion. This work was amazing and felt very rewarding.
One child comes to mind in particular when I think back to some of our therapy sessions;
Arthur* was an elective mute. He literally went an entire school year without saying a word to ANYONE. He would speak at home but never at school.
Vegas and I teamed up with Arthur with the intention of getting him to teach Vegas a few commands. It all started with a simple shout of the word, “Sit!” As soon as Vegas responded to Arthur the look on his face was priceless. Like a kid on Christmas! I’m sure that my smile was ear to ear as well. We progressed from there very gradually, sometimes making progress, yet other times Arthur would choose not to attend the therapy sessions. After a few months of practice we were nearing winter vacation. We scheduled our last appointment for the year and I wasn’t expecting anything to have changed miraculously. We went through our session and by this time Arthur was able to say “speak”, “sit”, “stay” and a few other basic commands for Vegas. We had a fun session and as Vegas and I were leaving Arthur shouted out: ” Have a great Christmas, bye Nik, bye Vegas!!!” This was the first time that I truly saw the effects of a therapy dog.
*All names are changed for privacy
Check out these links to watch a video of a therapy dog in work and a video featuring how Vegas helped change my life 🙂
Dog Helps Kids with Autism
Dharma Dog Cares – Go!