Therapy Dogs Give Paws, Raise Spirits

By: Lauren Squires Email
By: Lauren Squires Email

It's been just over a week since the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The community continues to mourn the loss of so many lives. Out of the darkness came a few smiles from survivors, thanks to therapy dogs brought in to help raise the spirits of affected children. A similar program in Omaha works to do the same for hospital patients.

“Come on Rose, let's go to work.” Once a week, Rosie and several other dogs visit Methodist Hospital. “Dogs give unconditional love and they just calm a person down,” says Cindy Downing with Paws For Friendship. “The blood pressure goes down. It doesn't matter who you are, what color you are or what you're doing, a dog loves you.”

In this case, they were providing therapy for patients like Kitty Dahlberg. “They're wonderful. Can I get a hug?”

“You can shake her paw.”

Kitty’s family couldn't help but smile watching her joy. “It's wonderful therapy,” says Janet Reid. “I can't imagine anything else that would be better for them to raise their spirits."

“I love dogs.” The same goes for Kay Jorgenson. “She's just a big chunk of love.” She said the visit brought back memories or her childhood. “When I was little I had a Boston bull terrier.”

Rosie isn't alone. This type of therapy is proving to provide help across the country, most recently in Connecticut. It's been proven that dogs help calm patients and people. “We hope you get to feeling better.”

Rosie lowered the blood pressure of several patients she visited and even doubled as Santa's helper. For owner Cindy, it's moments like this that make volunteering her time worthwhile. “It makes my day. It gives me chills to make people smile. Make them be a little bit more positive in their recovery to be out of the hospital.”

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