It may not be a magic bullet or the fountain of youth, but with it, patients on walkers have stood longer; stroke victims in recovery have walked farther; children in hospitals have smiled bigger.
That's what happens when they meet the highly trained, four-legged whizzes employed in animal-assisted therapy or its close relative, pet therapy - although their full-time job is being a dog.
"When I first started doing this," said Susan Raphael, a volunteer pet-therapy handler, "people would say, 'Therapy for a dog? I've never heard of that.'"
Actually, dog psychologists exist. But that's another story. This is, more or less, the story of Lanny, a white Labrador Retriever; Lyla, a Sheltie; and Puma, a black part-Lab, part-Golden Retriever, along with their handlers: Gina McRae, Jenn Sivak and Raphael, respectively.
They can be found brightening up the lobbies or clinics of the University Rehabilitation Center (URC) building, Methodist Rehabilitation Center or Batson Children's Hospital.
Without them, patients trying to restore their limbs and muscles - and, sometimes, their emotions - perform certain tasks. With them, they've been known to perform wonders.Continue Reading...