Our C.A.T.-certified therapy dogs are always ready to lend a helping paw to those who are grieving the loss of a loved one or who are experiencing a turbulent time in their lives. Pet therapy teams (handler and dog) can provide the perfect medicine by providing much-needed comfort during an uncertain and difficult time. Our therapy dogs are non-judgmental listeners who want nothing more than to be touched and to provide comfort to human companions.
A simple touch from a therapy dog triggers the release of oxytocin, the chemical found in humans who are in love or bonding with friends, and immediately makes a person feel calmer and happier.
Therapy dogs also have a unique ability to sense human suffering. When introduced to a group of children, a therapy dog has been known to instinctively seek out a depressed or struggling child and those in grief counseling cannot help but smile when a therapy dog is present. One of our smallest therapy dogs, Ted (featured above), inspires not only smiles, but giggles, by wearing a blue-tinted ponytail and beard whenever he visits seniors and kids.
Our Dogs Healing Hearts program includes fun activities where individuals are able to learn new ways of dealing with their struggles and begin the healing process with the help of a therapy dog.
New statistics were released by the Centers for Disease Control in 2014 reporting that about 1 in 68 children has been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to estimates from the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. Because ASD and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development – characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors – having structured contact with animals can be a great addition for educational and treatment plans.
Working with the University of Miami & Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD), C.A.T. provides therapy teams working with the special needs population with advanced training and tools to ensure the interactions are understood and meaningful for both the therapy team and the recipient. Storybooks are created for each therapy team to make sure the children know what to expect when meeting and interacting with the dog. “Feelings Boards” help volunteers understand how verbal and nonverbal people are feeling about the experience. Also, First/Then scenarios are created to help teach procedures such as greeting a dog, and playing, walking, or grooming the dog.
Volunteers are in great demand, but not all dogs are suited for this specialized work. Successful completion of both C.A.T. Basic and Advanced Evaluations are required and the dog must weigh at least 30 pounds.