Tag Archives: therapy dog

San Diego therapy dog detects water contamination

It’s just a small news item in the Los Angeles and San Diego newspapers…but it’s another story of how special dogs are – and how they use their detection skills to help humans.

On 26 January 2017, a therapy dog at San Diego Cooperative Charter School in Mountain View wouldn’t drink the water a teacher had poured for it from the classroom sink.

The teacher noticed a sheen on the water, which was tested and initially revealed the substance vinyl chloride.  Subsequent testing has revealed levels of lead some of which exceed health standards.

A district-wide water testing program is underway in all City of San Diego schools.

All because of one keen-nosed therapy dog with discerning tastes!

Source:  LA Times; Voice of San Diego

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Norbert: the little therapy dog with a series of books

Norbert

Norbert shows his High Five (photo courtesy of Norberthood.com)

Norbert is a special therapy dog.  He’s a very tiny (3-pound) cross-breed who was the only puppy born to his dog mother in California.  His owners believe he is a Chihuahua, Cairn Terrier  and Lhasa Apso cross.  Adopted in 2009 from PetFinder.com, Norbert was his human mother’s first-ever dog and he traveled to Boston to live with her.

At the age of one, he passed his therapy dog tests and began working with children and the elderly. Along the way he learned new tricks like High Five, Namaste (stay) and Zen (lie down).

Then his mom decided to write a book, and then another, and (soon) another….

Book 1: Norbert - What can little me do?

Book 1: Norbert – What can little me do?

Book 2: Norbert - What can little you do?

Book 2: Norbert – What can little you do?

Book 3 (due out in November 2015): Norbert & Lil Bub - What can little we do?

Book 3 (due out in November 2015): Norbert & Lil Bub – What can little we do?

Therapy dogs are special dogs providing important emotional support services to those in need.  I like the fact that there are children’s books featuring Norbert – if we tell children about dogs and their personalities, and teach them lessons along the way, we set them up to be compassionate adults who are prepared to be responsible pet owners.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

The dental therapy dog

Just when you think I’ve run out of ways to report on new ways dogs are working as assistance/therapy dogs…I introduce you to Flossie.

Appropriately named, Flossie is a dental therapy dog.

Lexa and Flossie: (From left) Dr. Alan Golden, Elysia Yriarte and Natalia Caraballo smile for the camera while petting Flossie, a dental therapy dog, and her half-sister Lexa, a dental therapy dog-in-training.  (photo courtesy of American Dental Association)

Lexa and Flossie: (From left) Dr. Alan Golden, Elysia Yriarte and Natalia Caraballo smile for the camera while petting Flossie, a dental therapy dog, and her half-sister Lexa, a dental therapy dog-in-training. (photo courtesy of American Dental Association)

At the 10,000-square-foot Virginia facility, Golden Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, Flossie is free to run around with one job: to make people comfortable wherever they are. Flossie has been coming to the office since she was 8 weeks old in 2012.

“I would say, ‘Back to work,’ and she goes out and finds a lap to sit on, or sometimes she cuddles with the kids,” Dr. Golden said. “She’s good at it.”

With the success of Flossie, Dr. Golden said he’s been considering creating a resource for dentists who are interested in using therapy dogs in their practice.

Flossie, a Cavachon (Bichon Frise/Cavalier King Charles Spaniel cross), received her therapy dog certification from the Alliance of Therapy Dogs.  New patients are informed that Flossie works at the practice so they are ready for her presence in the office when they arrive.

For patients that are particularly frightened of dogs, or who have severe allergies, Flossie is sent to her official resting area, which is fenced off and has a dog bed.

Dr Golden’s partner in practice is so impressed by what Flossie brings to the practice that he has his own dental therapy dog in training, Lexa.

Source:  American Dental Association

A therapy dog to help mourners

Say ‘therapy dog’ and most people will think of hospitals, rest homes, and mental health services.  Some may also think about dogs supporting witnesses when they have their day in court….but now there’s a growing use of therapy dogs in funeral homes.

This video, from the Ballard-Durand funeral home in New York, promotes Lulu, a Goldendoodle, who can be booked on request for funeral services.

The loss of a loved one and funerals, in general, are times of great emotional stress.  How nice it is that dogs are offering comfort in these situations and that they are being accepted by professional funeral directors.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Infection control guidelines for animal visitation

The use of dogs in hospitals and other therapy institutions is on the rise, as more medical professionals acknowledge the positive effects of dogs on human patients.

New expert guidance by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) outlines recommendations for developing policies regarding the use of animals in healthcare facilities, including animal-assisted activities, service animals, research animals and personal pet visitation in acute care hospitals.

The guidance was published online in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of SHEA.

“Animals have had an increasing presence in healthcare facilities,” said David Weber, MD, MPH, a lead author of the recommendations. “While there may be benefits to patient care, the role of animals in the spread of bacteria is not well understood. We have developed standard infection prevention and control guidance to help protect patients and healthcare providers via animal-to-human transmission in healthcare settings.”

Guidance is grouped by the role of animals – animal-assisted activities (i.e., pet therapy and volunteer programs), service animals, research animals and personal pet visitation. Select recommendations include:

Animal-Assisted Activities

  • Facilities should develop a written policy for animal-assisted activities. An animal-assisted activity visit liaison should be designated.
  • Allow only dogs to serve in animal-assisted activities, such as pet therapy.
  • Animals and handlers should be formally trained and evaluated.
  • Animal interaction areas should be determined in collaboration with the Infection Prevention and Control team and clinical staff should be educated about the program.
  • Animal handlers must have all required immunizations, restrict contact of their animal to patient(s) visited and prevent the animal from having contact with invasive devices, and require that everyone who touches the animal to practice hand hygiene before and after contact.
  • The hospital should maintain a log of all animal-assisted activities visits including rooms and persons visited for potential contact tracing.

Service Animals

  • The policy allowing service animals of patients and visitors into the facility should be compliant with the Federal Americans for Disability Act (ADA), other applicable state and local regulations and include a statement that only dogs and miniature horses are recognized as Service Animals under federal law.
  • If an inpatient has a service animal, notification should be made to the Infection Prevention and Control Team, followed by discussion with the patient to make sure the owner of the service animal complies with institutional policies.
  • Healthcare providers or staff may ask the patient or visitor to describe what work/tasks the dog performs for the patient, but may not ask for a “certification” or “papers.”

Personal Pet Visitation

  • Pets should, in general, be prohibited from entering the healthcare facility.
  • Exceptions can be considered if the healthcare team determines that visitation with a pet would be of benefit to the patient and can be performed with limited risk. Even then, visitation should be restricted to dogs.
  • The patient must perform hand hygiene immediately before and after contact with the animal.

The authors of the guidance also note that as the role of animals in healthcare evolves, there is a need for stronger research to establish evidence-based guidelines to manage the risk to patients and healthcare providers.

This guidance on animals in healthcare facilities has been endorsed by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), the leading professional association for infection preventionists with more than 15,000 members.

Source:  EurekAlert! media release

Previous blogs about therapy dogs include:

A day in the life of a therapy dog

I love it when we hear about dogs who are able to use their instincts, talents and charm for good.  There is a growing body of knowledge about how the company of dogs can assist with human therapies.

In this video, the pet therapy program at HCA Virginia’s Chippenham and Johnston-Willis hospitals is featured.  Meet Fraser, a Black Labrador/Golden Retriever mix.  Fraser’s canine colleague, Schaffer, doesn’t feature in this video.  But, as full-time employees of HCA Virginia, the dogs receive benefits which include supplies and paid veterinary care.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Can your dog R.E.A.D?

In today’s world, literacy is an essential life skill.   Did you know that dogs are being specially trained to help children learn how to read?

A Canadian R.E.A.D. dog in action (photo courtesy of TherapyAnimals.org)

The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) programme operates in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada and aims to improve reading and communication skills by allowing children to read to a dog.  Dogs are non judgmental companions who allow the children to read aloud and gain self esteem, while practising their reading skills.

R.E.A.D. dogs are registered therapy animals who volunteer with their owner/handlers and they visit  schools and libraries and other venues.    In tracking the effectiveness of the programme, schools are asked to report back on reading test scores of the children involved.  Libraries schedule the R.E.A.D. visits as special events, and watch the children flock in to participate.  Attendance numbers are also tracked.

Patrick Barkham of The Guardian Weekly recently published an article about Danny, a greyhound R.E.A.D. dog in the UK.  Read The dogs who listen to children reading.

R.E.A.D. chapters have various requirements for dogs and their handlers.  All dogs must achieve therapy dog qualifications which test their obedience, temperament, and sociability.  Most dog handlers are required to attend training courses and this is augmented by on-the-job mentoring and coaching.