Therapy dogs have long been known to help hospital patients, particularly those involved in traumatic experiences begin the healing process.
On April 18, Time reports pet therapy via therapy dogs is being used with the Boston Marathon bombing survivors.
The golden retrievers, trained by the Lutheran Church Charities in pet assisted therapy, were made available to survivors in the Boston community.
President of the Lutheran Church Charities, Tim Hetzner commented:
“People talk to the dogs — they’re like furry counselors. It’s a chance to help bring some relief to people that are shaken up because of the bombings.”
Some benefits of pet assisted therapies, specifically those that involve therapy dogs, for trauma survivors include:
- lowers blood pressure
- improves cardiovascular health
- releases endorphins (oxytocin) that have a calming effect
- diminishes overall physical pain
- the act of petting produces an automatic relaxation response, reducing the amount of medication some folks need
- lifts spirits and lessens depression
- decreases feelings of isolation and alienation
- encourages communication
- provides comfort
- increases socialization
- reduces boredom
- lowers anxiety
- helps children overcome speech and emotional disorders
- creates motivation for the client to recover faster
- reduces loneliness
(List from Paws for People)
Today notes that one of two of the dogs brought to Boston are actually the golden retrievers taken to Sandy Hook Elementary in the wake of their shooting which took place in December 2012.
Sources: Today, Time