Therapy dogs are now being used to help sick kids who are going through medical procedures. The point of the dogs is to help ease the nerves of the kids who may be undergoing an anxiety-inducing treatment or surgery. Milo, Hattie, Quinn, Jessie, Leo, and Archie are all part of a volunteer-run group known as the “dog-tors.”
Right now, these dogs are helping children with anxiety at Southampton Children’s Hospital in the UK. They are all golden retrievers and are available to the children for cuddles and smiles. This group began seven years ago when a boy had to wear a surgical mask. He had never worn one before and was nervous. That’s when one of the dogs stepped in to help show the boy that the mask wouldn’t hurt him. “One of the therapy dogs was happy to poke his nose in a spare mask and have a sniff,” says volunteer Lyndsey Uglow.
These therapy dogs are here to save the day!
When the child saw his little furry friend also wearing a mask, he wasn’t so scared to wear his anymore and happily put it on. The volunteers have since been taking photos and videos of the dogs using the medical equipment in the hospital. It’s making those machines look a lot less intimidating and less scary for children.
For example, therapy dog Leo was more than happy to have an X-ray done to prove that they don’t hurt. His buddy Jessie demonstrated an echocardiogram by laying on her back and also got her belly rubbed! Most of the time, the dogs don’t actually go through the procedures, they are just posing for the photos and videos. This has helped many children’s frowns turn upside-down and their fears subside.
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Proof that the presence of dogs helps with anxiety
The Animal Assisted Intervention team visits the hospital five times a week to give all the children better feelings and smiles. According to Yahoo!, a year-long study was done on the impacts of therapy dogs. The study showed that the presence of dogs reduced anxiety in younger patients while waiting for tests or examinations. Check out the video below of a similar program by PetSmart!
This story originally appeared at Do You Remember by Jane Kenney.
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