The incessant wagging tail and the characteristic wet nose that brings a smile to your face, is actually capable of much more than lovely companionship…
Yes you heard us right!.
Your lovely pooch can help several people get over their illness or come to terms with it, by being their Therapy Dog. The dog can actually be trained to provide affection and comfort to humans.
While speaking to Pune365, Clinical Psychologist Minal Kavishwar, Founder President of Animal Angels Foundation said, Animal Angels was formed by like-minded people to promote the amazing mutual health benefits of the human-animal relationship.
We have had pets in our life all along, but no one ever really looked into what health benefits they can have for us, or harness this ability in pets and incorporate it in therapy or treatment.
Pets can bring more than joy into our lives, they provide unconditional acceptance, they are non-judgemental, they help us calm down, bring instant relaxation, lowering of blood pressure, taking our mind away from negative thoughts all the while.
Animal Angels foundation incorporate this ability of pets into a therapeutic setting. They train family pets to be therapy dogs who then work with their team of trained animal therapists to visit people in need.
The focus is to improve people’s quality of life through interaction with animals and build awareness on the mutual benefits of human-animal relationships.
“A therapy dog is a dog who is trained and certified to work with various people in need, to provide them with emotional support and comfort.
A therapy dog is not just any friendly dog. Every dog needs to undergo a temperament test to see if he has the right personality and temperament to do this work. The team of the dog and one member from the family (handler) is then trained further on working with people with special needs.”
These teams along with their trained counsellors or therapists visit children with special needs, senior citizens, adults with intellectual disabilities, Cancer patients etc,
“The motive was to make people aware that your pet has much more to offer than you think.
If your pet can bring you joy and give you unconditional love, then he can do the same for others in need too. So this was created as an opportunity for people to share the love that their pet gives them with someone in real need.
Scientific documentation and research of our work are also one of the key areas we work in, thus collecting empirical evidence on the benefits of animals in our lives, adds Kavishwar.
A breed dog is no bar when it comes to therapy dogs. Although a lot of the dogs personality and temperament come from his breed, it also matters how the dog was raised.
“What we essentially look for is an even temperament; the dog should be friendly not just at home but with all people, known and unknown.
We look for dogs with a confident personality, outgoing nature and someone who genuinely loves the attention. Also, the willingness of the dog to work in a setup is also very important.”
Animal Angels foundation has an Indie dog on the team, named Lucky. She was rescued and rehabilitated, then trained to be a therapy dog.
“After she passed her evaluation she started visiting children with special needs. She is now the mascot for all Indie dogs. Given the right kind of second chance, Indie dogs can make great therapy dogs.
Besides Indie dogs and retrievers, they have cocker spaniels and a Doberman on the team, In the past, they have had pugs and a Great Dane too.
#The foundation also accepts donations to run programs, that are offered free for underprivileged children. They are currently looking for donations towards their longest running program at Bal Kalyan Sanstha, where the team of therapy dogs and rabbits work with children with special needs.
##Those who wish to donate can contact them on 9987509102 or visit their website www.animalangels.org.in
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