Dogs give quiet comfort to family members and recovery workers
Worn out from the grief of losing a relative on Flight 3407, the woman found refuge in her hotel bed only to realize it was not enough.
She’d heard that some special therapists had been brought in and requested that they come to her room.
In a matter of minutes, a dog was lying beside her and another was standing at her bedside.
Canine therapy had begun.
Merlot, a black Labrador retriever, lay beside the woman and waited for a sign to engage.
“It was immediate. She reached over and petted the dog and hugged it,” said Tara Hughes, the lead Red Cross mental health volunteer at the Family Assistance Center for relatives of the deceased crash victims.
Kim Griswold, who cofounded the team with Kregal, said the relatives were mostly silent as they interacted with the dogs. “They’d kneel beside them or sit on the ground and be with the dogs,” she said.
What amazed the mental health officials at the assistance center was that the dogs themselves intrinsically knew who was in the most need of their companionship.
“They seem to really be able to sense who needs them and they will find that person,” Hughes said. “If the person responds, great. If the person doesn’t, they move away. They do their job beautifully.”
There are those who claim that therapy dogs are "trained circus elephants" or that our four-legged friends are soulless.
i've witnessed first-hand the impact their work has had on a stroke patient, and to those nay-sayers I say....
nah, that would impolite and might get me kicked off of here for good.
They can provides a sense of normalcy and reassurance, unconditional love and comfort. Acceptance and non-judgment are perhaps the two most important gifts that these animals can offer.