All right, I may be pushing the envelope when I say therapy dogs work miracles. But, that's okay. I have an opinion and that opinion is that dogs, and other therapy animals, do work miracles. The kind of miracle that happens when someone with an illness or mental condition cannot function in society - until they get a therapy dog.
The human animal bond between patient and dog is so strong, I feel good saying there is a miracle happening there.
In some respect dogs are angels. They are always on guard, watching our every mood, always in protect mode, and always full of forgiveness and love, no matter what we do to them.
HABRI - the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, has a short article on the site about dogs helping with Alzheimer's and dementia. For those who have never experienced or had a relative with these awful diseases and issues, understanding how valuable a therapy dog is may be superficial. As if a dog could do anything for someone who forgets which room the bathroom is, or how to make a bed, or when to eat lunch.
INCREASING QUALITY OF LIFE
- Dog-assisted therapy has been shown to improve mood, psychosocial functioning and quality of life in elderly dementia patients living in residential aged care facilities
REDUCTION OF DEPRESSION
Pet therapy is efficient in improving depressive symptoms and cognitive function in residents of long-term care facilities with mental illness
And, over at Alzheimers.net, the stories are wonderful about both cats and dogs and the bond between patient and pet.
Anyone who owns a cat or dog can attest to the beauty of their unconditional love, and animals often forge a special connection with people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. My mom had a cat for a number of years, and their bond was inexplicable. Holly wore a perpetually annoyed expression on her feline face and loathed most humans, yet she never left my mom’s side; as much as she detested being picked up, that darn cat would even let Mom carry her around like a rag doll. It never failed to amaze me.
My Dad, may he rest in peace, suffered for many years with Alzheimer's Disease. Sometimes I don't know who suffered more - my Dad, or my Mom. While he did remember her, and their early years together, he often did not remember the rest of us.
We did not have a pet for my Dad. He lived in a Veteran's Home. I wish they had been more progressive and allowed animals in. In this article I wrote two years ago, That Autumn They Moved In A Greyhound Named Target, you can learn how therapy pets, not just dogs but cats and other animals, change the way people with dementia and Alzheimer's act and feel. No, it doesn't bring them back to their perfect 'old' self, as they were when we remember them. But, it makes them more aware and it gives them hope and studies show they begin to eat better and interact better. There is laughter where once there was silence. There is a smile where once there was nothing but dour expression. There is a human animal bond in progress, showing the connection we have to each other - we living creatures of this great big world.
And, that is a miracle. I think.
What do you think?