Animal-assisted therapy: Engaging the human-animal bond

Animal-assisted therapy: Engaging the human-animal bond


I love what I do. I really believe in making a difference, and
the feedback we get from the co-workers that we work with, the patients, their families,
is amazing. It’s pretty powerful to be part of, you know,
the dog would just make somebody motivated to work harder. They have fun. Heaven forbid that they’re having fun, while
they’re being therapeutical, so… My name is Lisa Markin. And I’ve been a registered nurse for twenty
six years. I have two dogs right now that I work with. Well actually, I guess one. My first dog Rowan just retired after working
with me for over eight years. So I founded INSPIRE Animal-Assisted Therapy at the
end of 2007. This most amazing young golden retriever, four
years old, was placed with me. A certified service dog with the fifty-five
commands. A brilliant dog, the funniest personality, just so charming. I started working with the gentleman in the
large hospital, Hank. And he’s a lovely elderly gentleman who lived
at home very independently with his wife, suddenly struck one day by a stroke. He was hospitalized for a very long time with
limited return of function on that affected side. It affected his hand and his leg. And Hank came to the rehab hospital where
I started working with him on Tuesdays in the animal-assisted therapy program. (He’s a) very lovely gentleman, sweet soul. And he would get emotional very quickly, in
the sense that he would tear up when he saw the dog. It became very obvious very quickly that he
loves working with animals, and so we would work with Hank every Tuesday morning for about a half hour, thirty-five minutes. It’s pretty intensive, full-on therapy when
we work with the clients. One of his goals, he told the staff that work there, was he wanted to walk Rowan in the hallways. And so on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and
Monday when we were not there, he was practicing because next Tuesday when we come back, he
wanted to show Rowan that he’s going to walk, and he did! She walks with you, she just looks up. And the way she looks at you, you know, makes
you walk better. One of the things I find when I’m working
with Hank or any of our clients is, how they seek out and touch the dog while
they’re working with him. And you know, touch is really important for
us humans. We feel our way through the world, and it
really doesn’t change as we grow older. What does change though, you know, from my
experience as a nurse, working in hospitals and such, is that touch becomes a little taboo. It’s reserved to the extreme. But the dogs bring something different where
it’s safe touch. It’s okay touch. And boy, do people seek it out. And you know, it might be just a stroke
on the head of the dog and the touching of the fur, and the leaning in to the dog. It’s amazing how many people just, you know,
take their head and bury their head into the dog’s fur. And I know that as a pet owner that, you know,
we know that such a rewarding experience for us. For people who live in a clinical setting,
in a residential care or in a hospital, that becomes even more important because it’s so
valued and yet so limited. (It) gives them a reason to work harder at
that therapy goal. And then at the end of the day, they’ll come
back and say, you know my right shoulder hurts a lot less. I’m finding I can do more with it and, you
know, that’s pretty powerful for me to be hearing those reports from our patients and
their families.

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