Golden retrievers are arguably the best therapy animals that ever happened to humankind. To know a G.R. is to know love and compassion, exactly what we see from Milo, Hattie, Quinn, Jessie, Leo and Archie, six special dogs working to take care of nervous children who visit the hospital.
These therapy dog-tors are part of an Animals Assisted Intervention Team at Southampton Children’s Hospital in the UK . They are trained to help kids relax and calm their nerves during medical exams with fluffy hugs and licky cuddles, providing the children with a rush of joy and excitement to dull their fears of needles, X-ray machines, and the like.
They also help to show kids that medical exams aren’t as scary as they appear to be. These dogs would often lie down to demonstrate how an X-ray or chest echo goes, and if a doggie can do it boldly, any child can do it too.
The dogs don’t actually go through the procedures but the doctors make it look as though they are really getting examinations to convince the kids.
Canine medical professional – and cute sweethearts all the same
The team of dog-tors was set up about seven years ago at the hospital when a little boy got terrified of wearing a mask during his procedure. A therapy dog was brought in to calm him down, and it worked like magic. After the canine wore the mask with confidence, the kid was more than happy to give it a shot.
Ever since then, therapy dogs have been a steady part of the pediatric unit. The team is run by volunteers who take care of the animals when they are off duty.
“One of the therapy dogs was happy to poke his nose in a spare mask and have a sniff,” said volunteer Lyndsey Uglow to Yahoo News Australia.
They are always eager to smile and cuddle their little children, holding their hands and nuzzling their faces while they are examined.
The dogs recently started featuring in videos and a lot of hospitals are setting up similar programs to help their young patients.
They love their job
“Dog-tor Jessie” is usually called yup whenever it’s time to demonstrate an echocardiogram, and she enjoys it so much.
“She is very happy to lie on her back and have her tummy rubbed,” Ms. Uglow said.
Dog-tor Leo is the X-ray expert. His human counterparts recorded his first visit so they can show it to kids who are terrified of the X-ray machine. The children usually find it funny that dogs are getting the same exams as they are and having so much fun while doing it. So maybe, it won’t be as bad as they thought.
Studies have suggested that children dealing with health problems tend to fare better when they are surrounded by loving animals, especially dogs.
According to a study conducted in 2004, “The rationale behind this practice is that animals naturally stimulate an attraction and involvement response in humans, which is then reflected in the person’s well-being. As well-being is inconsistent with the state of emotional distress, animal-assisted therapy may be a beneficial intervention to alleviate distress in the child, his family, and caregivers .”
The amazing dog-tors visit the hospital at least 5 times a week to spread love, kisses and boost confidence levels.
When they’re not on duty, they are being happy pooches, playing fetch, going kayaking, and just having a good time all day long.
“The children seem to trust them, and for many, the fact that the dog has done it too (had an X-ray) persuades them that it is ok,” Ms. Uglow said. The volunteer is independent of hospital funds and relies on donations to keep up the good work. Click HERE to lend a hand to the incredible cause.
Image Credits: Yahoo News Australia
- Nadine Carroll. The dogs showing sick kids how to go through medical procedures. Yahoo News Australia. https://au.news.yahoo.com/dogs-showing-kids-how-to-go-through-medical-procedures-uk-southampton-childrens-hospital-052520665.html. Retrieved 20-01-2020
- Gagnon et al. Implementing a hospital-based animal therapy program for children with cancer: a descriptive study. Pubmed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15635895. Retrieved 20-01-2020
- Lindsay Uglow. Therapy Dogs of Southampton Children’s Hospital. Just Giving. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hospitaltherapydogs. Retrieved 20-01-2020
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