The mood in a room instantly shifts whenever a cute, fluffy dog prances in. Petting or playing with a sweet pooch certainly seems to lift our spirits and lessen our anxiety. That's why so-called "therapy dogs" can now be found in many hospitals, assisted living facilities, dentist offices, and other medical settings.
According to the Mayo Clinic, short visits with a dog can reduce pain, anxiety, depression, and fatigue in people receiving cancer treatment or in long-term care facilities, as well as those with cardiovascular diseases, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety.
Fido's in the house
In light of the evidence that the presence of dogs can improve the physical, mental, and emotional health of humans, Fox Run has started a program for residents from the independent living residence buildings to bring their dogs to visit people at Rose Court, the community's on-site continuing care neighborhood.
"There's a lot of research on pets and animals being really helpful, especially for people who are lonely and depressed," says Rose Court Program Manager Jackie Pomeroy-Miller. "So, we are encouraging our neighbors to bring over their pets to Rose Court. We have a lot of devoted pet lovers who can be a great resource."
Pomeroy-Miller says the program is casual and dog owners can bring their pets at various times that are convenient for them. Some residents with loved ones in Rose Court bring their dogs whenever they come to visit.
Recently, Pomeroy-Miller was leading a memory care group session and says a resident stopped by for an impromptu visit with her dog.
"We stopped and had a five-minute pet visit, and it sparked some great conversations with residents in the group," she says. "We asked questions like, 'Did you have a dog?' It really added to the group discussion we already had going."
Now that Pomeroy-Miller has her own pup, a Boston terrier puppy named Scout, she plans to bring him to work when he's a bit older.