By: Gracie Zeeb
What is a Therapy Dog?
Importance of Therapy Dogs
Daisy: The dog who sniffed out over 500 cases of cancer
Dr. Guest had recalled that Daisy had been pawing at her chest-- bumping into her repeatedly. Dr. Guest decided to see her General Practitioner after noticing a small bump on her chest. Her GP had stated the bump was just a harmless, removable cyst. “He was correct-- the bump was a perfectly harmless cyst, but further in the breast tissue was a deep-seated cancer.” It was caught very early and she ended up going through 6 months of radiotherapy. Now, five years and several trials later, Daisy has sniffed 6,000 samples of urine and detected more than 551 cases of cancer with a diagnostic accuracy of 93%.
Cali, an 18-month-old Rhodesian Ridgeback:
When we’re agitated, cortisol levels in our bloodstream rise. It’s Cali’s job to let Casey Butler, her handler, know if a student’s cortisol levels are high. If they are, that student spends time talking with Ms. Butler and Cali to help defuse the stress. “The children feel safer with Cali around,” she explained. “They tend to open up more.” It’s their strange sense of smell that allows dogs like Cali to detect rising cortisol levels in our sweat or breath, and identify a student having trouble even in a faraway classroom.
Bella and Max
Pros and Cons of Owning a Therapy Dog
Helps children overcome speech and emotional disorders.
Decreases feelings of isolation and alienation.
The act of petting produces an automatic relaxation response, reducing amount of medication some people need.
Releases endorphins that have a calming effect.
Provides non-stressful, non-judgmental environment.
Increases self-confidence, reduces self-consciousness.
Provides motivation to move more, stretch farther, and exercise longer.
Increases joint movement and improves recovery time.
Having to “drag” your therapy dog around with you wherever you go (if needed). For example, restaurants, movie theaters, dentist/any medical appointments, having another dog approach the two of you (maybe in a menacing manner), airplane rides, etc.