Dogs and even cats are going through training to visit hospital patients as a part of Paws Patrol. Delta Society Pet Partners, the only animal assisted therapy registry allowed at Phoebe and Palmyra hospitals, held the training session.
Pet Partners dog Moses, a cocker spaniel, has visited hospital patients for six years. He works closely with children, older adults and patients in psychiatric facilities, according to Claire Peel with Paws Patrol.
Trainee Marcy Bell says family experiences inspired her to take her dogs through training and become a member of Paws Patrol to help comfort patients in nursing homes and hospitals, much like Moses.
"I've had family in nursing homes and in extensive stays in hospitals and we're a family of dog lovers. One of the things they miss the most is their animals," says Bell.
Paws Patrol is looking for special kinds of dogs: Trainee dogs must have basic obedience training â" be able to sit, stay, lay down â" and have a calm, friendly temperament.
"They have to be comfortable being petted by multiple people. They have to be comfortable having kids doing rough petting on them. They have to basically be comfortable being handled," says Peel.
Paws Patrol dogs don't just visit patients; they help them with their therapy. Patients get to brush the dogs and take off and put on the dog's scarf. Peel says this helps patients working on fine motor skills.
Peel says Moses loves speech therapy the most.
"The speech therapist will try to get the patient to speak to the dog and give commands to the dog. I can stand behind the patient and do the hand signals so even if the patient can't talk loud, Moses typically does it. Then the patient thinks, 'He did what I said,'" says Peel.
For more information on how your dog can get involved with Paws Patrol and the Delta Society Pet Partners, contact Marty Harris by phone at 229-883-9411 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit the Delta Society Pet Partners website for other area Paws Patrols.