Therapy dogs are used in a variety of situations to bring comfort and reassurance to humans. Different from Service dogs, who provide a specific ongoing medical service to their own handler, therapy dogs provide emotional support to strangers, not their owner, under the direction of their handler.
Stroking a dog can lower blood pressure, reduce stress levels, and release endorphins. Speaking to an animal provides an outlet for otherwise inhibited conversation. There are a number of instances in which therapy dogs have been used effectively:
- Visiting sick and elderly
- As reading companions for children
- Comforting disaster victims
- Comforting guests at domestic violence shelters
- In courts, to emotionally support witnesses describing traumatic events
- In grief and grieving programs
Therapy work requires an unflappable ("bomb-proof") dog with a friendly interest in strangers. Just like not all humans have great bedside manners, not all dogs are comfortable with the social pressures required by therapy work. It is dangerous and unkind to unnecessarily force a dog into situations that cause it stress and aggravation. Experienced mentors can help you evaluate whether a dog is suitably gifted.
Prescription Pets (AKA Rx:Pets) is a therapy animal organization for Shasta, Tehama, and Trinity. Their Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program provides registered therapy animals for children to read to at the Redding Public Library.
Therapy Animals of Redding is another Shasta County organization.
In Chico, contact Sarah Richardson's Canine Connection for info on the organization Pet Partners. In Redding, Marty Strausbaugh of Pawsitive Training Center prepares teams for certification in the Independent Therapy Dogs organization.
The information above is provided as a public service. Shasta Dogs does not receive financial benefit in exchange for advertising any service or product on this page or linked pages.