Castle Hospice recognizes the benefit of emotional support that therapy pets can provide for our patients at end of life, and how that contributes to overall quality of life. Although many types of animals can be trained for therapy work, dogs are the most common in most settings. Unlike a service dog, who is not to be pet while working, a therapy dog’s main job is to be pet and enjoyed by those around them in a safe and trained way.
Liza Falk, our Hospice Spiritual Counselor and Bereavement Coordinator, and her dog Poe have completed their training and testing requirements to become a registered pet therapy team. We are very excited to announce that Castle Hospice is now able to offer animal assisted therapy for Castle Hospice patients! Liza and Poe have already started bringing joy and comfort to those we serve.
In the hospice setting, individuals are often no longer able to respond as they once did to verbal stimulus, and having the tactile engagement with a properly trained animal can allow them to engage in another way. Liza has witnessed that petting Poe has calmed restless individuals. We’ve also seen individuals who were mostly non-verbal begin to engage in conversation with him. Others may miss their own dogs and pet therapy serves as a way to connect back to their memories and stories. For individuals who are hesitant to greet a dog, he will perform tricks, and often makes people laugh.
A therapy animal is an animal who has been found to be medically fit, and then certified through an oversite agency (such as Alliance of Therapy Dogs, Therapy Dogs International, or Pet Partners etc.). The animals are trained in a variety of settings in order to react appropriately to differently abled individuals who reside in a variety of settings and may have a variety of needed medical equipment or mobility needs. Once trained they are tested extensively prior to being allowed to perform therapy visits.
If any registered pet therapy teams are interested in volunteering with us as we are hoping to continue expanding our Pet Therapy Program, please contact Liza at firstname.lastname@example.org or Yvonne at Yvonneemail@example.com.