College is going to the dogs, and even a few cats these days. As a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania for 38 years, Mary Jalongo saw her share of students stressed out as finals approached. Now retired, Jalongo, a longtime dog lover who has researched and written about the benefits of therapy dogs, is doing her part to ease those stress levels. She is among a legion of therapy dog handlers who have put college campuses throughout the region on their itineraries. Once the province of nursing homes, hospitals and elementary schools, therapy dogs — canines specially trained and certified to interact with people in institutional settings — are going to college. Nicollette Long, an IUP sophomore from Philadelphia, couldn’t be happier. Long, 20, was among hundreds of students taking a break from studying for finals and finishing term papers to head to the school’s Stapleton Library to pet a pup. Although there were about a half-dozen handlers with a variety of therapy dogs — ranging from an 85-pound golden retriever to a pint-sized Pomeranian — it was Jalongo’s laid-back Italian greyhound, Fiona, that caught Long’s eye and claimed her heart. “Being an animal lover and growing up with dogs, she put a smile on my face. She was just an adorable, loving dog,” Long said. “And it was very relaxing, especially right before I had to go to math class.” The feeling is mutual, said Julie Baker of Blairsville. Baker’s 2-year-old golden retriever, Marley, lapped up the attention and ended up on his back enjoying belly rubs from students.
Category Archives: Animal therapy
A clinic on dog handling for Veterans and active-duty military members is scheduled May 16-21 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Montrose campus of the VA Hudson Valley Health Care System. The clinic is presented by Hearts 4 Heroes and will take place in the courtyard behind Bldg. 15 at the Montrose location at 2094 Albany Post Road, Montrose, NY 10548. The clinic is free to Veterans and active-duty military members. The clinic will also include an agility course for the animals.
Mountain Peaks Therapy Llamas and Alpacas was created by Lori and Shannon Gregory eight years ago. They’d heard that llamas are gentle and easy to keep, so they decided to buy a baby one. The friendly, playful animal began to attract increasing numbers of visitors, and they decided to register him as a therapy animal. They now own five llamas and three alpacas, and have taken them on over 1,000 visits to rehab centres and clinics. Patients are encouraged to play with the animals, offer them food, and stroke them. The animals have helped to calm the anxious and cheer up those suffering from depression. They even encouraged one mute patient to talk again.
Pet therapy may include several kinds of therapies involving animals, from animal-assisted therapy to animal-assisted activities. Animal-assisted therapy tends to use dogs or other animals to help people recover from health problems or to cope with mental stresses. Animal-assisted activities allow individuals to interact with animals. These animals may provide comfort during the activity or be used to provide interaction. Animal-assisted therapies work in several ways. For instance, if you attend your drug addiction programand are asked if you want to be part of the program, you can say yes and learn more. If everything is agreeable to you, you’ll seen have an assistance animal, whether it’s a horse, dog, cat, or other animal, come to you. In some cases, the animal stays for longer, but most visits are between 10 to 15 minutes. You can interact with the animal and talk to the handler. Typically, this improves a person’s mood, which is helpful to the healing process.
Ruff Day, a new student initiative, is looking to bring more pets to campus to combat mental health problems and the general loneliness that students sometimes feel living on a college campus. The organization will make their first appearance at the University of Connecticut’s Fresh Check Day, held on April 23 from noon to 4 p.m. Fresh Check Day is a mental health initiative and the signature event of the Jordan Porco Foundation. Porco committed suicide as a college freshman, and in response his family began the nonprofit to help other students in need and to reduce the stigma about mental illnesses. Fresh Check Days take place throughout the Northeast and are expanding nationwide. The Fresh Check Day will serve as a pilot test for Ruff Day. If student feedback is positive and expansive, the organization will look to make more animal therapy appearances at campus events.
You’ve probably heard about therapy dogs, or even therapy cats. But what about therapy chickens? A metro-area school is helping kids learn life skills through chickens.There are several chickens at the Lakemary Center in Paola. They serve special needs children with developmental or psychiatric problems. The chickens are the center’s newest way to connect with the kids, says Dr. Courtnie Cain, who’s the clinical program administrator. “Seeing them connect to specific chickens, and name them, you can see the kids project some of their own family ties. And the kids being able to connect with the animals in a way that they haven’t been able to connect with people.” Dr. Cain laughs as she describes just how much the kids love the chickens. “I think we’re probably going to be a pioneer in therapeutic chickens.” Bob the rooster and his four hens, plus another 8 chicks, have their own coop on the southern side of the school. And they’re really popular. School principal Amanda Martell tells us about the first egg, “literally the chicken egg was laid when the kids were in there and they held up the egg like it was a Simba.” The kids are learning life skills too, like making sure the chickens have enough food and water and even how to collect and sell the eggs. “Figuring out if they need more feed, and which kind is the best? Learning the life cycle of a chicken egg. We have the ability to have all that educationally brought in too, I mean it’s just been a win-win,” Martell tells KMBZ.
A stray dog brought to Maine from South Carolina will soon head south again as a service dog for a wounded veteran. Service dogs are often used by veterans to manage such mental health issues as PTSD. Rocky arrived at the Franklin County Animal Shelter from Macon County just a few days before One Warrior Won founder Richard Brewer and Vice President of Operations Julie Plummer came up from Portland to meet him and adopted him last Tuesday, said Billie Jo McDonald, animal care technician. “They fell in love with him,” she said. “He was exactly what they wanted.”
Dani, 15 years old, walks into the library of Serendipity Center in Portland, Oregon. Quiet and reserved, her face lights up when she sees the visitors waiting for her: “It makes me feel like they are my friends,” Dani says. “I would always talk to them, and it would make me really happy.” Dani’s visitors are actually two therapy animals. Soft, fluffy, gentle, tolerant — these two aren’t your usual therapy dogs, which help people cope with mental health. In fact, they aren’t dogs at all. Rojo the llama and Napoleon the alpaca are changing the face of therapy animals in the Pacific Northwest. “Everybody just needs a little happiness and joy in unexpected places,” said Lori Gregory. A few hours earlier, she and her daughter Shannon were walking Rojo and Napoleon through downtown Portland. It was quite the spectacle. Even in this city, known for having a quirky personality, this group drew a crowd. Photos, hugs, selfies, and a lot of laughter — that’s what Rojo and Napoleon can do. And it’s what Lori and Shannon have been sharing with the Portland area for 8 years and counting. “We never dreamed that we’d be doing work with llamas and alpacas,” Lori said. “We came to Oregon 20 years ago, and bought 2 ½ acres. Basically, we got tired of mowing the lawn, so we went to the fair to look for some animals to keep it eaten down.” The low-maintenance llamas caught their eye. So they went llama-shopping at a local farm. A red-colored llama named Rojo — Spanish for “red” — would become their first llama.
Fern Britton has joined parents to share her experience of maternal mental health problems in a series of short new films produced by Sport Relief.
The kids strengthen their reading and empathy and the dogs learn to trust.