Posts Tagged ‘therapy’

Second. Awareness has begun…

Written by Zoe Santoro on . Posted in Blog

We visited our second school, The Pines Christian School, and we learned quite a bit from them. This time we were dealing with 1st graders, and they were a bit more rowdy than the preschoolers were. But it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle, as well as we enjoyed this experience because we appreciated the individuality of each class we visited. This time around it was the same routine as when we went to our first school, and we got the same responses, which is good because it indicates that something is happening. But to not bore you with another article the same as the first, I will explain why we do what we do. We go to classes with an emotional support animal, and the book that we wrote to help raise awareness for depression in kids. We decided to do this as our senior project because we came across an article that stated “children ages 3 to 6 are being diagnosed with chronic depression”, and this research was done on a classroom environment. My group and I decided that something needed to change, there had to be some sort of hope in their little growing minds. So we came up with a book that has a story about how Jack Jack became an emotional support animal, but in a way that interests the kids. And we visited the classrooms and read them the book as well as brought Jack Jack with us for the kids to pet. Because bringing a dog into an environment where the kids may be sad increases serotonin levels, which then increases happiness for the kids if they were already sad. And if they weren’t already sad it still cheers them up. We hope that with each classroom we visit we leave a lasting impression, and give the kids something to think about when they’re sad.

Pet Therapy—Making Spirits Bright

Written by Zoe Santoro on . Posted in Blog

Dogs aren’t just used as service animals—they are also used as therapy animals, visiting the elderly or sick in their homes or hospice care.


Lisa Marcolongo has teamed up with her golden/labrador retriever mix Tali to visit people over the past six years. Marcolongo also works part-time at The Elizabeth Hospice in San Diego, where residents love their four-legged visitors.

“They enjoy her presence and the warmth Tali brings,” Marcolongo says. “She puts her head in their lap so they can touch her head and she has been trained to gently get into bed and cuddle with them, so they feel that warmth. I think whenever people are not feeling well, touch and warmth are very important.”

Seeing dogs around also spark fond memories of life with dogs prior to the nursing home or hospice.

“There are some patients with dementia who may not remember what they had for breakfast that morning but a lot of times, they remember the animals they had growing up,” Marcolongo explains.

Here’s how it works: Pet therapy teams coordinate with social workers who offer a list of services to potential patients, dog therapy included. If the patient chooses pet therapy as part of their care, a team will be contacted and paired up with the patient.

There are also groups that visit nursing homes. Love on a Leash, a non-profit group in Southern California, will credential pet therapy teams and assign them to other agencies in need.

“It’s something the residents look forward to,” Marcolongo says. “It’s nice to see the response from the patients. It just brightens their day.”

Getting a Service or Therapy Dog

Written by Zoe Santoro on . Posted in Blog

Colleen Demling partnered with the San Diego Armed Services YMCA to help develop and maintain their Therapy Dog Program and has consulted with numerous private clients on their Service and Emotional Support Dog training needs. She says people might be surprised to learn not all organizations that provide service dogs are created equal.

“There is really no clearing house to start your search for a service dog,” Demling explains. “There are a lot of organizations popping up, trying to take a bit of the government money available for programs geared towards wounded warriors or civilians who have PTSD.”

Two sites where people can get educated and start the search on options comparing organizations:

Two organizations Demling particularly recommends are Canine Companions for Independence and Guide Dogs of America.

“I recommend calling one of these organizations and asking for guidance,” Demling says. “They are well-respected organizations so they are probably going to know other well-respected organizations that are training dogs for PTSD and other disabilities.”

Dealing says don’t be afraid to look into a service animal or think you won’t quality.

“The only requirement for a dog to become a service dog is for a person to have a disability as defined by the ADA and the dog has a skill that is taught that directly assists that disability,” Demling explains.

If you have a minor disability, you may be able to train the dog yourself but most people will seek help of larger organizations, which makes it important to check first with the two groups mentioned above. Any organization you work with should provide extensive training of at least a week with the dog either at your home or the group’s site.

“It allows the organization to give you the skill set to work with the dog and to make sure there is a personality match,” Demling explains. “They should help you problem-solve any difficulties you might have as they transfer the dog to you—they are hands-on, eyes-on to fix it.”

The cost of being paired with a service dog should be nominal or nonexistent.

“The larger non-profit organizations are funded independently through grants and fundraisers,” Demling says. “With a for-profit group, they will give you a service dog but will charge you $6,000. There are organizations that are chasing the money first and trying to help the person second.”