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Class trains owners how to assist the patients at hopsital
Written by Lu Stitt   
Wednesday, 03 October 2007 12:59
How can anyone hold on to their troubles when they look into the face of a furry friend with a wagging tail, and maybe accept a swipe of a tongue on the cheek.
Dogs just have a natural way of making one feel better. They always have a happy disposition, and greet you as if they’ve been waiting all their life just for you.
Research has shown that people who are ill or in the hospital, usually in some kind of pain, that receive a canine visitor show a quicker recovery, according to Dee Chadwick, a member of Pet Partners.
“Dogs are healing. Statistics show they have a calming effect on people, and people really take to the dogs. People’s eyes just light up when they see them trot into the room. They talk to them, stroke them, hug them,” said Chadwick, who takes her dog, Woody, to visit people as a therapy dog.
The dogs also help the patients get their focus off themselves and onto another being, she said.
“And the dogs just soak it up. That’s why we do it. It’s so rewarding to see,” Chadwick said.
Dogs don’t judge, they don’t hold a grudge, they’re not vindictive — they just love unconditionally, she said.
Many hospitals, like Verde Valley Medical Center in Cottonwood, have opened their doors to the four-legged therapists, and invite more dog owners to attend training for their pet to become a therapy dog.
Chadwick taught a Pet Partners therapy dog training class at the hospital, Sept. 22. Ten dog owners attended and learned what they and their pets need to do.
“It’s a team effort. The dogs need to be mellow, like people and be obedient, and the owners must be in control of their dogs,” Chadwick said.
The dogs must also be able to stay calm in a crowd and cannot be afraid to be touched.
Pet Partners is connected with the Delta Society, which bases its mission on the value of the human-animal health connection. The Delta Society was founded in 1977 in Portland, Ore. It is an international, nonprofit, human service organization.
During the training, Chadwick set up scenarios the dogs and owners may encounter that may scare the dogs, such as a dropped tray, a bed or wheelchair going by, a door suddenly opening or someone rushing around a corner.
“They learned how to handle those situations calmly and effectively,” Chadwick said.
Chadwick is the only person in Northern Arizona to teach the classes, and this was her first class as a teacher.
“What I teach is the owner — how to go home and train their dog,” she said.
Afterward, Chadwick evaluates the dog and lets the owner know whether or not the dog will be accepted as a therapy dog to visit hospital patients, nursing home residents and go into schools to interact with children.
The class took place at Verde Valley Medical Center’s Conference Room in the outpatient area.
For more information about Pet Partners and the
training, call Chadwick at 284-5757

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