There is an organisation in London, England, where volunteers take their dogs, and sometimes other animals to care homes, hospitals and hospices and allow them to play with the sick, or elderly patients. TheraPaws run by the Mayhew Animal home has been very successful at helping those suffering in hospital.
Both the patients and the volunteers benefit from these visits. The patients start to smile and forget their suffering for the length of time the animals are there. One elderly lady who had not spoken to anyone, or eaten for three days suddenly came back to life again when a dog climbed onto her bed. She started to pet the dog and talked to it. After that, she started to speak with her carers and family again, and she then agreed to take her medicine and start eating for the first time in days.
Therapy dogs bring life back to care homes.
These therapy dogs make people feel alive again. It is a natural response for us, humans, to want to interact with our dogs and pets, and when these animals come into these care homes, the patients respond in a very positive way, forgetting their pain and suffering and give the pets some attention and get unconditional love back from the dogs. The therapy dogs are just working, but any animal has the same effect.
Usually laughing is not the sound you hear in these hospices, but when these dogs arrive faces light up, and laughter fills the rooms every time they visit. Fifty TheraPaws dogs have 43 care homes to visit all over London, and they are planning expansion as the programme has been so successful.
Pets reduce depression
There have been many studies that show that pets can reduce the symptoms of depression that is often present in care homes and help the patients regain an optimistic view of what remains of their life. A dog is excellent for your health as they need a lot of attention. You have to take them for walks which means you have to get moving, and just caring for them reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and you feel happy due to the endorphins which this attention to your dog gives you.
And dogs love their humans. They exhibit unconditional love for their owners, and even strangers get the benefit of a greeting and a wagging tail. For this reason, the therapy dogs change the entire outlook and atmosphere wherever they are taken to visit the patients. And the patients look forward to the next visit, therefore, giving them a purpose in their lives. And of course the dogs love all the attention they get, and they also know what they are doing as animals are very sensitive to the needs of humans.