Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Animeals - Meals on Wheels now catering for Pets

Many people living on a fixed income rely on the Meals on Wheels services in their area.  But they’re not eating the food – their animals are.  That’s why many distributors are now bringing people’s pets their own meals.
“Many of our homebound senior clients who live alone depend on their pets for companionship but providing food and veterinary care while living on a limited income can be a challenge,” said Charlie Ring, executive director of Meals on Wheels of the Palm Beaches. “Through our new Animeals program we’re able to help relieve some of the burden on our clients who love and care about their cats and dogs so deeply.”
Approximately 25% of the people receiving meals have at least one pet.  Having the companionship of an animal shouldn’t be reserved for only the well-to-do, especially when a dog might be the only creature in this world they have to love.  Most will gladly sacrifice a full belly to make sure their animal has one.
“Meals on Wheels is about helping seniors stay in their home and live a high quality of life,” said Debbie Emerick, director of volunteer services for Meals on Wheels of the Palm Beaches. “Being able to keep their beloved pets at home with them is an important part of that quality of life.”
Jack Patrick and Andy enjoy a meal together.
Jack Patrick, a 73yr old disabled artist watches his 7yr old Schnauzer Andy happily gobble down a plate of meatloaf. He’d love to be the one eating it, but refuses to let his boy go without.
“What was I supposed to do – just eat in front of him?  I can’t do that. He’s my best friend,” Patrick explained to the Kansas City Star.
Thankfully now he no longer has to make that decision. Every Wednesday a week’s worth of dog food is brought to Patrick’s Warrensburg, Missouri home.  And he’s not the only one getting this treatment.
“Their mate is gone and the children gone, but that pet is still at their feet,” said Melissa Gower, the county services director at the center in Warrensburg.  “Mostly dogs and cats, but we do have one bird we take food for.
The program is sponsored by Banfield Pet Hospital, an Oregon-based company that provides animal food for more than 400 home delivery meal organizations.
“If these seniors are giving their meals to pets, they are not getting the proper nutrition for themselves,” said Keith Greene, the chief membership officer for a national Meals on Wheels organization. “So this is a big issue.”
The Warrensburg program was launched when 76-year-old Air Force veteran Andy Polusny learned that many seniors were sharing their food with their hungry pets.
“Some have had to give their pets away,” he said. “That’s not right. So we’re helping them out. We even have a cockatiel we take food for."

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Navy SEALS dogs: bulletproof, waterproof, high-tech

Did you know that many of the special operations and dangerous missions US Navy SEALS complete might not be possible without the help of specially trained and specially outfitted - four-legged SEALS? Not only do these amazing dogs sniff out bombs, track human targets, and even parachute from planes into enemy territory, they also save the lives of US servicemen and women by alerting them to hidden dangers.

Military dogs come in all breeds, shapes, and sizes. From a 15lb West Highland Terrier trained to travel through tiny air ducts, to a 250lb Saint Bernard and every size in between, these hero dogs are outfitted is some really cool custom gear, like the vests made by K9 Storm.

At a cost of $20,000-$30,000, K9 Storm’s “Intruder” vest is bulletproof, waterproof, high-tech, and ultra-lightweight. The vests are bulletproof, able to stop even a 9mm or .45 round from a handgun. And, because Navy SEALS operate from air, land, or sea, the vests are waterproof, make use of Kevlar hooks & D-rings for parachuting, repelling, and lifting, and are custom fitted to each dog for maximum mobility.
In addition to protecting the dogs from attack, these vests feature high definition video cameras with night vision and transmission enable a receiver to operate at a safe distance, even through solid concrete walls and steel ship’s hulls. The handler can see where his dog is going, see what he is seeing, and even voice audible commands to his service dog. The entire unit weighs just between 3-7lbs, depending on the size of the dog and added accessories.
Fast Company reported on the next phase of K9 Storm’s vests:

“The next phase of development includes plans for remote-delivery systems and enhanced accessory functionality. They describe a system that would help dogs transport medical supplies, walkie-talkies, or water into constricted areas like rubble. They’re also planning new appendages like air-level quality meters for mines.”

K9 Storm, founded by Jim Slater, a former police dog trainer developed the vests after noticing during a prison riot - that while he was protected, his K9 was completely unprotected - to help protect the dogs that protect us.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Therapy Dogs United

Therapy Dogs United, Inc. (TDU) inspires physical rehabilitation and therapeutic healing through exploration of the unique animal-to-human bond and the use of interactive animal-assisted therapy and humane education. 

Therapy dogs impact learning and provide the catalyst for positive change.  Since a therapy dog loves to interact with everyone - from children, to adults, to seniors - their core Facility Dog Placement Programs and Educational Programs really allow their dogs to shine!

Facility, Skilled Support & Companion Dogs:

Facility Therapy Dog has many proven benefits in health care, senior living and educational settings. Facility Dogs enhance the quality of life by providing unconditional love and permanent companionship on a full time basis, 24/7.

Skilled Support Dog (Animal-Assisted Therapy) Placement Program helps residents and students better manage their daily lives. These dogs help with physical rehabilitation and encourage clients to engage in physical activities. The ultimate goal is to regain health, independence and mobility. Skilled Support Dogs work well with individuals dealing with behavioral, emotional or cognitive challenges, Autism, or Down Syndrome. 

TDU can match a Companion Dog (Emotional Support Dog)with an individual suffering from depression, loneliness, or in need of companionship. These therapy dogs are excellent partners for disabled residents who live in supported housing.  

Therapy Dog United Programs:

ACE Program (Animal Care for Exceptional Children & Adults) 
ACE is a research-based animal-assisted therapy and rehabilitation program that travels to participating school districts.  This research-based program is designed to help children and young adults affected by:
  • Autism
  • Down Syndrome
  • Physical injury or disability
  • Emotional or behavioral challenges
  • Cognitive loss
  • Speech or hearing difficulties

PAL Program
Bring a therapy dog into the classroom and you will inspire a child to learn. That's why TDU’s PAL Program is so successful with preschool and elementary school-aged children in the arts, music and literature. Its "Tutors with a Tail" in-school reading support program is a key component of PAL. 

Bella's Brigade
An innovative and expansive program - Bella's Brigade is best described by two words: comfort and trust. Therapy dogs help open dialogue with victims of sexual or emotional abuse, or a child grieving the loss of a parent or caregiver. TDU’s therapy dogs lend a trusting ear that the child quickly realizes he or she can tell anything. This crisis outreach program utilizes Occupational or "on site" therapy dogs - and offers special training and certification programs to both the volunteer handler, and the therapist/counselor.

At-Risk Families (ARF Program)
Therapy Dogs United also brings the ARF Program to homeless shelters and group homes to help children deal with tough emotional times. This research-based program stresses the importance of humane treatment and compassion for all animals, and teaches the importance of give back by sharing our pets with others in need. They introduce young adults to basic obedience training, and animal safety.   

Packs Program (Prevent Attacks with Care, Kindness and Safety)
PACKS Program is an educational program designed to develop responsible pet owners and compassion toward animals. Pet Educators emphasize responsible pet ownership, including basic pet care and lessons in animal humanity. They strive to teach people of all ages basic information about the many ways animals (and people) communicate, and use the unique human-animal bond to teach pet responsibility and respect. By learning what to watch and listen for, we can handle animals with much greater safety and communicate more effectively.

Animal Communication and Bite Prevention program 
Teaches children how to safely approach a dog. The goal is to reduce the number of dog-bite injuries and emotional scars affecting children; lower medical costs; provide fewer insurance claims associated with dog bites; and a decrease the number of dogs euthanized for biting children who may have unknowingly provoked them.

TDU programs offer interactive presentations for mainstream students, ages K-12, and special needs children and adults. Each program is tailored to meet the audience age level and interest, and can be customized to compliment specific subjects. These presentations are available for groups of any kind, including schools, clubs, homeschooled groups, and community organizations. 

To request additional information on any of Therapy Dogs United programs, email

Friday, 26 December 2014

20 Reasons You Absolutely Need A Dog In Your Life!

1. Dogs empathize with human pain 

Goldsmiths College released a study that showed more dogs will approach someone who’s crying or in distress than someone who is not. This demonstrates that dogs are empathetic and are eager to help comfort humans in pain. 

2. Dogs can detect cancer

Due to their incredible sense of smell, dogs have shown anywhere from 70 to 99% accuracy (depending on the study) when tasked with detecting lung cancer in a nearby patient.

3. Dogs reduce work stress

The International Journal of Workplace Health Management has discovered that workers who bring their dog to their office have less stress and are happier with their job, simply because the dog is hanging around.

4. Dogs detect seizures before they happen

Recent research has shown certain dogs are able to warn seizure patients that they’re going to experience an attack, sometimes hours before it happens. Nobody yet knows how they do it, or why only certain dogs can do it. They also can’t be trained to do it, so if you feel you need a seizure-sniffing dog, you need to make sure you have yourself a natural.

5. Dogs help babies stay healthy by being dirty

A recent study has shown that babies with dogs are actually healthier than those without dogs, reporting fewer coughs, runny noses, and ear infections. The reason, researchers believe, is because dogs will track in dirt, mud, and other germ-infested bits of earth, thereby boosting the child’s immune system.

6. Dogs help you stay in shape

A study from the University Of London has determined that kids with dogs are more active, and exercise more often, than kids without dogs. After all, it’s a lot more fun and interesting to go jogging with your dog than alone.

7. Dogs detect low blood sugar

That sense of smell can do even more; dogs can also detect low blood sugar in their master. They will either alert the person that the sugar has dropped or, if a diabetic attack has already occurred, will bark and bark and bark in an attempt to alert somebody to come help, thus working to save the diabetic’s life.

Food allergies are nothing to sneeze at; luckily, dogs have been shown they can be trained to detect certain allergens. So if you’re allergic to peanut butter, the dog will alert you if it detects anything with the scent of peanut in the room. Same with any other thing that may harm you or a loved one.

9. Dogs help you be more social

The British Medical Journal has concluded that dogs act as “social catalysts,” who help people get out more, approach others more easily, and overall reduce isolation. This is actually more important than the basic companionship that dogs provide, as human social support is more beneficial to human health.

Simply by being themselves, dogs have been shown to help reduce PTSD among soldiers. In addition to providing the usual doggie companionship, they have been shown to help sufferers come out of their shells, be less numb and angry, and improve their social life as well.

11. Dogs help prevent eczema in kids

In a surprising twist, it might actually be beneficial to get a dog for your baby, even if they’re allergic. Studies have shown that children under the age of one who live with a dog are much less likely to develop the chronic, and annoying, skin condition called eczema.

12. Dogs heal wounds simply by kissing you

A dog kissing you obviously feels wonderful, but it might actually have physical benefits too. Studies have shown that saliva, both the human and doggie variety, can help stimulate nerves and muscles, and get oxygen moving again, which is the secret ingredient in helping wounds to heal. In short, “licking your wounds” is not just a cliche after all.

13. Dogs make their elderly owners go to the doctor less

Almost certainly due to the positive vibes and good feelings that dogs bring out of their masters, even in the worst of times, studies have found that older people who own dogs average at least one less doctor appointment per year than those who do not.

14. Dogs reduce your risk of heart problems

Preliminary studies by the American Heart Association are revealing that dog owners have less risk of heart disease than those without dogs. The reasons given are the exercise that owners get when walking their dogs, plus the presence of the dog helps the owner deal with stress better. The evidence is mostly anecdotal right now, but dog owners know that it’s all true.

15. Dogs aid with depression

Day-to-day depression, or even more serious chronic depression, is easier to handle with the love of a dog, studies show. Simply by having them around, and knowing that even at our worst, somebody loves us unconditionally and is eager to see us happy again, we’re given a reason to get up and keep going.

16. Dogs help college kids get through finals week

Finals Week sucks; just ask any stressed-out college student, or anyone who’s ever been one. Many schools, thankfully, have found a way to help: dogs. Programs that provide therapy dogs to campuses for overworked students to pet, play with, or just plain cuddle with, have proven successful in calming down students and (hopefully) improving their test scores 

17. Dogs comfort children with autism

Autistic children often find the world very stressful, in ways that the non-autistic can’t understand. Luckily, a dog can. Studies are showing that bringing a therapy dog into an autistic household helps to reduce the amount of cortisol (a stress hormone) in the autistic child’s body. This both calms the child down and shows him that he has a friend.

18. Dogs help prevent bullying

Bullying has been a huge problem for a long time, and people are finally doing something about it. Dogs, too. Experimental programs have been launched that bring dogs into schools to promote empathy, with the lesson that you shouldn’t treat people badly, because you wouldn’t do it to a dog. Thus far, kids have been able to make the connection, which will hopefully continue to be the case.

19. Dogs help people with Fibromyalgia stay warm

Fibromyalgia is a debilitating disease that can leave its victim in constant pain. Studies have shown that the Xolo dog’s body temperature can be used as a kind of therapeutic heating pad, due to it being a hairless species. Of course, unlike heating pads, a Xolo will bond with you, snuggle with you and keep you warm as long as you need, leading to both external comfort and internal happiness.

20. Dogs help people with dementia live a better life

Dogs have shown that they can help keep dementia sufferers on schedule, reminding them when its time for medicine and when to see the doctor. In addition, when the owner experiences frustration over the state of their mind, the “dementia dog” is right there to support them, comfort them, and remind them that someone’s always there for them.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

What is Animal Assisted Therapy?

Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) programs help humans overcome, or at least cope with, health problems (both physical and emotional). Dr. Boris Levinson, a US child psychologist, is credited with discovering AAT in the 1960s.
At that time, he brought his dog Jingles with him to visit a withdrawn child and found he was able to gain the boy’s trust, thanks to Jingles’ presence. As Dr. Levinson stated:1
“A pet is an island of sanity in what appears to be an insane world. Friendship retains its traditional values and securities in one’s relationship with one’s pet. Whether a dog, cat, bird, fish, turtle, or what have you, one can rely upon the fact that one’s pet will always remain a faithful, intimate, non-competitive friend, regardless of the good or ill fortune life brings us.”
While AAT was met with criticism in the ‘60s, it slowly gained a following and today is commonly used in health care settings. For instance, 60% of hospice-care providers that offer complementary and alternative treatments offer animal-assisted therapy to their patients.2

The Many Talents of Therapy Animals

AAT can take many forms. It may involve patients caring for an animal, as is often the case in equine therapy, or it can involve animals brought into health care settings to interact with patients individually or in groups. For instance, encouraging research to date has shown that equine therapy (interaction with horses) improves symptoms in Alzheimer’s patients.3
Other research has found adults recovering from joint-replacement therapy who used AAT (canine therapy, in this case) used 50% less pain medication.4It’s truly remarkable how many different health complaints seem to benefit from animal assisted therapy.
According to Pet Partners, a non-profit organization that provides animal-assisted interactions, “AAT is designed to promote improvement in human physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning.”5 

For example, AAT programs may include any of the following goals:
Improve post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)Improve standing balanceIncrease exercise
Improve wheelchair skillsIncrease attention skillsImprove fine motor skills
Increase verbal interactionsAid in long- or short-term memoryIncrease vocabulary
Increase self-esteemReduce anxietyReduce loneliness
Improve knowledge of concepts such as size, color, etc.Develop leisure and recreation skillsImprove willingness to be involved in group activities

Story at-a-glance

  • Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) can help people cope with and overcome physical and emotional challenges
  • AAT is used for motivation, mental health, reducing loneliness and anxiety, improving fine motor skills and verbal interactions, and much more
  • Animals bring comfort and care to patients with a wide array of health problems, from Alzheimer’s and autism to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and recovery from surgery
Sources and References
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