Man’s Best Friend, Service Animals for Recovery
The photo above is me looking after a Service Dog. His name is Getxo and he is the proud owner of Professor Amanda Burls. I thought I was looking after the dog but in actuality the dog was looking after me! He would stop me from staying too long on the computer by putting his face on the keyboard and when he felt I was sitting too long he would bring over my shoes in his mouth and stand there until I got up. By the end of my time with Getxo I felt better than I had in months!
Service Dogs can lift depression, help with tasks, and protect their owners. They are used in schools, Nursing homes, hospitals, with veterans. They are specially trained to be companions and to provide services. James Serpell, director of the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society at the University of Pennsylvania points to research that indicates animal interventions can help with social interaction and reduce behavior issues encourage n some children with autism-spectrum disorders. Dogs work just as well as other conventional treatments, including CBT. The research is less robust for depression anxiety or fear but the owners of service animals state they do enjoy tremendous security and relief with the use of their service dogs.
The animals are effective says a review of animal-assisted interventions on children with autism, published in the Society for Companion Animal Studies Journal in 2009, they can help facilitate daily routines and reduce behavioral outbursts. Dr. Serpell can’t point specifically to a cause for the enhancement but it is suggested that s the animal’s presence induces neurochemical changes, like an increase in oxytocin hormone, which is then thought to improve social interactions.
I spoke with patients who have service animals and they share that some employers, airlines and living places can be very difficult to deal with even when the dog comes equipped and licensed with a physicians letter. It is like they are being bullied for being disabled and bringing help. The NSARSO web site gives great information on how to get, keep, train and troubleshoot service dog issues. If the videos below are not available in your area you can view them below:
The thinking behind service dogs
Wilco helps with TBI and PTSD
This greyhound is even learning how to take off Hoodies and jackets