Close your eyes and envision a beautiful dog sitting by your side, quietly waiting for just a little bit of attention. As you run your hands along its soft fur, you can’t help but feel a sense of calm, peace and happiness. You’re not imagining it. According to a study published by the US National Library of Medicine of the National Institute of Heath, interacting with pets helps improve a person’s mental, social and physiological heath.
Dogs have always been known to be man’s (and woman’s!) best friend and as we age, that friendship takes on even more significance. A recent article in Money Magazine laid out 10 reasons seniors need dogs in their lives and the most important benefit is, unsurprisingly, stress reduction. Organizations like senior living centers and community centers have embraced dog therapy programs as the best vehicles for seniors to get their puppy fix. Dog therapy isn’t just for seniors. Schools, corporations, and even college campuses are bringing dogs in to help people deal with stressful situations. Remember the stress of exam week? Therapy dogs on campuses help students de-stress during intense study periods.
But not just any dog will do. No one wants to interact with an unruly dog, a nervous dog, or worst of all, a mean dog. The wrong dog could increase a person’s stress, not reduce it. It takes a pup that loves to interact with people and has a calm temperament to work as a therapy dog and even with the right demeanor, every dog needs intense training before it will qualify for therapy programs. Canine Comfort, Pets Helping People, Dogs On Call, and Health Heelers are just a few Milwaukee-area groups that help local organizations bring dogs to the people who need them the most. This recent story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel describes the extensive training regimen that dogs go through before they can be awarded a therapy dog vest.
Dozens of local groups from all over the Milwaukee area experience the stress relief, warmth, feeling of connection and pure joy that interaction with dogs brings. Groups involved with a local therapy dog program swear by the positive feedback they get, like these provided by Health Heelers testimonials.
Aside from therapy pets, Eastcastle Place residents are welcome to bring their own pets to live with and/or visit them and they quickly become a beloved member of the community.
Love dogs, but not a dog owner? No worries, you can still enjoy the benefits and fun of interacting with a dog on a regular basis. You may have seen Eastcastle’s own Jersey walking the halls of our building; this beautiful 5-year-old husky/hound has become our goodwill ambassador. It all started when Jersey’s owner Dawn, Eastcastle staff dietician, brought this adorable pup with her to work one day and now Jersey comes along with Dawn almost everywhere she goes. Next time you see Jersey, be sure to say “Hi” for a healthy dose of stress release!