Irish Therapy Dogs

by Fingal Libraries
by Fingal Libraries on September 26, 2016 in Managers

The saying goes “Dogs are a man’s best friend”.  And us dog lovers would agree for numerous reasons, however having a therapy dog must be one of the best. Dogs can mean different things to different people. Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, colours and in 2014 there were 340 recognised breeds worldwide so you […]

The saying goes “Dogs are a man’s best friend”. And us dog lovers would agree for numerous reasons, however having a therapy dog must be one of the best.

Dogs can mean different things to different people. Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, colours and in 2014 there were 340 recognised breeds worldwide so you are bound to find one to suit your lifestyle or needs.

When we choose to look after a dog we become responsible for their food, bedding, health and wellbeing.

The benefits of owning a dog greatly outweigh any negatives, delete were appropriate chewed leather gloves, shoes, furniture, homework, slippers and the Sunday Roast, when you’re not looking.

People own dogs for a number of reasons; because they like to have company, they need a working/farm dog and now increasingly to assist them in a variety of roles. These assistance dogs help people who are blind, deaf, autistic, and some dogs can even detect the onset of an epileptic or diabetic episode. These types of dog are becoming more and more popular and we often see them here in the libraries as well as other public places.

There are a number of charities that provide assistance dogs. The Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind and Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland are just two.

Another way dogs assist people is through pet therapy.

There are many studies into pet therapy which report a reduction of stress levels, blood pressure and cholesterol in humans. Animal Assisted Therapy has even been shown to reduce pain in children and help them cope better in a hospital setting.

One charity close to my heart is Irish Therapy Dogs. The charity was established in 2008 to provide therapy to those in long or short term care. They are based in Dublin 4. There are now 270 volunteer teams that weekly visit nursing homes, day care centres, hospitals and retirement homes. These visits can provide comfort, and help reduce the sense of loneliness of those in care.

I know from experience the joy a therapy dog can bring to those in care. When you walk into a room of people for the first time it can be quite daunting, but being with the dog calms you and you don’t feel so nervous.

While some people approach you and ask questions, you must try to encourage them to pet or stroke the dog, as it’s believed that it is what triggers the beneficial effects. Some people will sit and pet the dog. Others can often find it easier to talk to and confide in a dog which makes it great for their mental wellbeing.

In no time at all once our dog was dressed in his yellow Irish Therapy Dogs uniform, he knew exactly where he was going and couldn’t wait to go on our visit. However the best thing was seeing everyone’s reaction when we arrived.

You may already have a well behaved, friendly dog that enjoys meeting people. These are the type of dogs that would probably enjoy being a Pet Therapy dog.

By Linda Galbraith, Fingal Libraries