Animal assisted therapy can be utilized in a broad range of environments and situations.
One very successful area in which well trained therapy dogs can be part of the therapy session is with persons recovering from stroke.
The dogs that are good “walking dogs” can not only motivate someone to get walking but assist with pace and distance.
The dogs can also be used for many elements of physical and occupational therapy.
Benny participated in the Stroke Awareness Fair at the local facility we partner with and he was a little rock star.
We had one of his favorite clients (patients) join us to demonstrate how she works with him and both her Occupational and Physical Therapists were on hand to lead the session.
First Benny had his second leash attached with the method Pet Partner promotes and he was walked for quite a distance. He stops when his client stops and stays at her pace. He has to be far enough from her not to impede her walking but close enough to truly be her partner.
Benny is a terrific walking dog and if he is asked to wait for more than a minute, he just lies down! Might as well rest!
Then we placed him on a table in front of our client on his blanket and did a variety of tasks. Our client brushed him with her weakened hand and was able to fully extend her palm to stroke him with an open hand. Then we surprised her with a book with photos from all her sessions with Benny and we used this book to practice opening, turning pages, closing the book.
Next we had a game that Benny enjoys and our client had to prepare the game for him, guide him and reward him, all using the side we were strengthening.
Benny is the perfect dog for this kind of assignment as he thrives on learning new things and being active when working.
He always looks at his “clients” and understands what is required of him each and every time.
There were questions from the audience as to why this helps her when she could do the same tasks without the dog. Her answer was so rewarding to hear.
“I so look forward to coming to therapy when Benny is here and we can work longer because everything is more fun. Benny inspires me to work harder and I want to improve every time we meet so we can do more fun things together. I just love that dog!”