Blog Article

Therapy Animals: Tail wags and kisses do more than you think.

When a dog enters the room, there is a kind of magic that happens. People break into smiles, tails wag, and the air becomes buoyant, filled with joy and laughter. That magic is at the heart of the therapy animal programs that bring their four-legged friends to visit our American House communities.

Since as far back as the 1800s, therapy animals have been utilized to relieve anxiety in patients and give comfort to those in need. Over the years, their therapeutic value has grown. There are three classifications of therapy dogs:

  • Visitation dogs who improve mental health through socialization and encouragement.
  • Animal-assisted therapy dogs (AAT) who aid in reaching motor skills goals.
  • Facility therapy dogs who work inside a facility, aiding the relief of cognitive and mental illness.

Individuals and organizations that visit us at American House, like Canines for Christ and the Fur Angels, train their animals to master certain skills. Certified therapy dogs visit anywhere comfort is needed; hospitals, schools, courtrooms and communities like ours. And of course, our residents and staff love it!

A Story of Angels.

Beth is an American House employee and owner of Lewy the cockapoo, a therapy dog with the Fur Angels. She feels the visiting dogs spark good memories for people. “We visited a woman in a senior living community who was in a quiet mood. When Lewy approached, her face completely changed. She had a look of joy on her face I will never forget. She was engaged and began talking and laughing.” For Beth, knowing that her dog can bring a moment of joy that makes a difference in someone’s day is why she and Lewy continue their work. She feels blessed.

Becoming a therapy dog owner began with a tough chapter in Beth’s own story. She and her family were struggling with the news of her 8-year-old son’s recent Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. During their first overnight hospital stay, a beautiful standard poodle strutted confidently into the room. “That visit changed our whole perspective. I saw my son smile for the first time, and my attitude went from, how are we going to do this to, let’s do this! I can’t explain the magic that dog brought, but I knew I wanted to be a part of the therapy dog world and give back.”

For the residents and team members at our American House communities, happiness walks in the door along with the visiting dogs. The entire community has a collective smile and it’s a great day for our visitors and new residents. Find out other ways to enjoy the move to senior living.

Did you know?

Many of our residents moved into their new home with a beloved pet. As you search for a community to fit your needs, contact them and ask about their pet policy.

We all have a story. A story that taught us something, changed us and helped define who we are. At American House, your next chapter is waiting to be written. We’re here to help you write it. Your way.

Written By

Jodie Audia, RN, BSN

Jodie is American House Senior Living's Vice President of Life Enrichment and Cognitive Programming. She has 24 years of experience in the field of nursing. Her prior assignments include Fountain View Surgery Center, Wayne State University Physician Group, Henry Ford Health System, and St. John Providence Health System.

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