Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The Healing Power of Dogs

Since they first became domesticated thousands of years ago, dogs have helped us in so many different aspects of our lives - hunting, herding, pulling loads, protecting, assisting police and military, and acting as guide/assistance dogs for the blind, disabled and deaf.

Dogs are first and foremost pack animals, which makes them great team players so they have readily taken to the jobs we have given them. But aside from these 'learned' skills, they have a natural instinct for helping other members of the pack or family without the need for any kind of training. Which is why over recent years we have come to value them for their innate ability to provide us with emotional support as well. Ask anyone who owns a dog, and they will recount many instances of how their much loved pooch has helped lift their spirits in some way or another.

There are many organisations around the world who work with dogs to bring comfort and psychological healing to people. Here are a couple in the UK that I have recently come across.

Pets As Therapy
Goal: to provide therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools and a variety of other venues by volunteers with their own friendly, temperament tested and vaccinated dogs and cats.

Today there are currently around 4,500 active PAT visiting dogs and 108 PAT cats at work in the UK. giving more than 130,000 people, both young and old, the pleasure and chance to cuddle and talk to them. The bedsides that are visited each year number a staggering half million.

Dogs For Depression
Goal: to highlight the healing benefits a dog can offer in recovering from depression. Their premise is that "dogs can help symptoms of depression because they are pack animals and instinctively form close bonds with other members of their 'pack' or family. By their very nature, they will help provide emotional support to other members of their pack by being loyal and affectionate companions."

Dogs for Depression's twin goal is to promote the rescue and adoption of abandoned dogs and encourage dog welfare.

Has a dog brought comfort to you in some way? Why not share your story with others by posting a comment.

1 comment:

  1. I have several mental & physical health disorders.if not for the furry companions I've had in my life,I would be dead by now.since my babygirl passed away in my arms at home on december 15th,I'm so consumed with grief,emptyness I'm completely lost.I can barely get out of bed most days and am steadily loosing touch with feeling any level of joy or comfort.I can't even focus long enough to finish watching an 1 hr long tv show.I cry for her daily and every single night light a candle by her picture on my night stand and cry myself to sleep.