Cheeto the eight pound Yorkshire Terrier may be just what the doctor ordered for the young patients at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. For two hours-a-day twice-a-week, Cheeto with her pet mom, Diane Weber, bring some much needed joy and furry kisses to sick kids and even the staff at this facility as a pet therapy pooch.
Weber recalls receiving her Yorkie from her children after they moved away to embark on their own paths. Even though Cheeto was meant to fill the gap of loneliness for Weber, her loving nature and small stature made her a perfect candidate for therapy work. Cheeto got lots of practice with the neighborhood kids before she even tried out for the therapy pup program, which helped her ace the course.
Of course, since she visits the hospital, no kisses are allowed on the face – just the hands – but Cheeto is still more than happy to get plenty of hugs and pets from all who greet her. In addition to sick children, this caring canine has also visited veterans and students during exam time to help bring some relief to those rattled nerves.
But Weber thinks Cheetos favorite place is still with the sick kids, where she bring smiles and a much needed break to all those who get to see her.
This shouldn't come as a surprise to those of us that already know pets have an innate ability to just make us feel better. They can naturally lower blood pressure, bring smiles to our faces and just offer up an unconditional love that is hard to find these days.
Research into the effects of pet therapy are well documented and have over and over again proved the validity of specially trained animals being allowed into patient's rooms, schools, assisted living senior homes and so much more. The reason behind pet therapy and why it is such a welcomed addition to these areas is because the presence of a pet normalizes the environment, lessens anxiety and stress to all those involved.
Pet therapy is now also being used in the realm of cancer patients going through difficult and oftentimes extremely distressing treatments, with astounding results. Studies have reported that these folks have an improvement in overall mood and well-being, as well as a substantial drop in psychological distress.
That's a whole lot of good stuff, and we need more of these furry ambassadors of good-will and their dedicated pet parents to join in the cause. Do you think your pet may be a good candidate for a animal-assisted therapy program? Your dog will have to meet some minimum requirements such as being clean, up-to-date on its vaccinations, well-trained and screened for appropriate behavior.
For more information check your local area to get your pooch assessed and to enter into the training program. Who knows? Your canine pal may just save someone's life…