Connected by more than a leash: Therapy dogs
Oct 7, 2011
The conversion of plant and animal health is at the foundation of the One Health/One Medicine initiative, as this story highlights.
From MIZZOU magazine
Rebecca Johnson has studied the positive effects of human-animal interaction — specifically people and dogs — for 11 years. Her research has focused on therapy dogs helping the elderly transition to nursing-home life and increase their walking speed, and improving general health through the “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” program, in which participants walk shelter dogs for exercise.
“When people interact with a dog, their blood pressure decreases, their heart rate decreases, and they experience a relaxation effect,” says Johnson, who received the 2010 Sinclair School of Nursing Faculty Award for Excellence in Service. “It’s a chemical response to interacting with the dog.”
Her new project at the MU Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction is a collaboration with the Central Missouri Humane Society and the Columbia Canine Sports Center, and it will pair shelter dogs with combat veterans who will train the pooches in obedience class. It is a win-win situation. The better-behaved dogs become more adoptable, and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) benefit from the therapeutic bond. More…