Dogs at Partners in Change
Meet Lincoln and Sadie, our in-house therapy dogs in training at Partners in Change. Lincoln and Sadie have a special role in our clinic. The hard working canines are a part of our clinical team, providing affection and a sense of comfort to the clients we serve. Therapy dogs work in different settings from hospitals, schools, retirement homes and out-patient clinics, working as a team with their human.
Research demonstrates there are physical and mental benefits when including a canine friend in a therapy session. These benefits involve a release of serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin--hormones that improve mood and emotional connection. The release of these hormones helps elevate moods, lower anxiety, reduces loneliness, increases mental stimulation, and can be the ice breaker in the therapeutic process (Morrison, 2007). Lowering blood pressure and regulating heart rate are also benefits of canine companions in therapy and at home.
This is just a snapshot of the benefits of having Lincoln and Sadie join our team. We enjoy our dogs as do our clients. Although they may look like they are just hanging around greeting clients, they have a far greater impact then what meets the eye. We took some time to ask what they think of their role here at Partners in Change.
So let us introduce you to our resident therapy dogs. Lincoln, whose parents are co-owners of Partners in Change, Dr. Ann Date and Dr. Tom Olson. Lincoln is a red fox lab and he is almost 2-years old. Sadie, whose owner is Katie Fall, outpatient therapist at Partners in Change, is a West Highland Terrier that is six months old. She loves people and the other dogs. Sometimes that can be a distraction for her, but she is eager to please. We took the time to interview Lincoln and Sadie to get their perspective of their experiences at Partners and Change.
Transcript of Interview:
Question: How did you become interested in becoming a therapy dog?
Lincoln: I really didn’t have a choice unless I wanted to stay home by myself all day.
Sadie: Same here. I’m glad to tag along every day!
Question: What do you find most rewarding?
Lincoln: People petting me, playing fetch or other games, and giving me treats.
Sadie: Playing with the kids that come into the clinic because they think I’m awesome! And watching the birds outside of the big window dreaming I am chasing them all over the yard.
Question: Are you required to complete a series of trainings before you become a therapy dog? How far along are you in your training?
Lincoln: I didn’t know about certifications. My parents are not taking me to any trainings. I know to sit and lay down if they tell me to. Sometimes I will respond to “come here” but only if there isn’t something more interesting for me to do. I just like people and am easy to get along with – that’s why I’m here. I also like to chew on an occasional toy.
Sadie: I am in an intermediate puppy obedience class right now. They are trying to teach me to listen, but there are so many things to look at, it’s really hard. I have lots of canine friends in that class and they find interesting things to look at too! My owner says I have a year or so to go before I am certified. This summer I get to do a trick class and learn all kinds of fun stuff, like how to pick up a phone. I hope they teach me how to shut a door.
Question: What do you appreciate about the clients who visit the clinic?
Lincoln: I appreciate the kids who come and play with me. Also, I like adults who say nice things about me and pet me.
Sadie: I like the treats the therapists give me. I hear a bag rattle and I am on it. Whatever they want, I’ll do it. I like to play with the kids, I’m still learning to not get too excited.
Question: What would you like people to know about you?
Lincoln: I really like the beefier treats. Purina treats are okay but the treats that are made with real meat is the best. Actually, little slices of steak would be fine with me – or cheese for that matter. I’m not a big fan of fruits but I like a carrot now and then.
Sadie: I love people, but I also like to do my own thing. I tend to be independent, but in the end, I want to be good. So, sometimes I need reminding of the goal, but I was easy to potty train!
Next time you visit the clinic you may see our furry friends walk by. They are part of our family and their purpose is to provide additional support to the clients we serve.
Moorison, M.L. (2007). Health Benefits of Animal-Assisted Interventions. Complementary Health Practice Review, 12(1), January 2007, 51-62.
The Benefits of Pets for Human Health. http://www.center4research.org/benefits-pets-human-health/