Power of pets
If you ever had the joy of growing up with a loving pet, then you can probably appreciate the benefits of pet therapy. Not everyone loves animals, but if you do then you may have experienced the comfort from a gentle dog. Or the calming purring sensation from a loving cat.
I personally grew up with pets, from dogs to cats, snakes to gerbils… some were more playful and comforting than others! But, always having pets around has taught me a lot about empathy and unconditional love. And studies have shown that there are so many more benefits.
When animals are brought into the healthcare system as part of the treatment plan, patients show better outcomes. Pet therapy can reduce anxiety, fear, isolation, and loneliness. “Pet therapy has also been shown to improve patient satisfaction, energy levels, self-esteem, and mood, as well as decrease depression. Additional benefits include increased motor skills and movement, improved social skills and verbal communication, decreased boredom, and a more positive outlook.” I have witnessed the reaction of visitors in the waiting areas of hospitals when the therapy dogs are around. Faces light up with smiles and people start talking to the dog handler, the dog, and others around them. It is so joyful to see.
If you are a patient in a Henry Ford Health facility, ask your nurse and they can contact the volunteer department to request a pet therapy visit.
You could also try volunteering at a local animal shelter. The dogs and cats always love to see visitors and are so eager to get the attention. You can visit the Humane Society to find a volunteer opportunity near you: https://www.humanesociety.org/volunteer
The C.A.R.E. Program team would love to connect with you!