Fathom Fridays and the Tale of a Therapy Dog

Animals can have a very special effect on people. We have all seen that recently - more and more dogs are being used and trained for a wide range of services to help those in need. It is not uncommon to see an airline passenger travelling with an emotional support animal, or a veteran with a PTSD service dog.   It is truly amazing how dogs can be utilized in the healthcare field - whether it be someone who needs help performing physical tasks, or someone who needs emotional support from the calming nature which most dogs naturally have and/or have been trained for use in different scenarios, or if someone just needs a wagging tail to take them away from reality for just a moment, and bring a smile to their face. 

Meet my Fathom. She is a 22 month old Labrador/Blue Tick Coonhound mix. The first time I brought her into the Dankmeyer office was a Friday about a year ago. I was going camping for the weekend, leaving directly from work and headed in the opposite direction from my home. The owners here at Dankmeyer (Mark Hopkins and Joseph DeLorenzo) were very kind to let me bring her in for the day as she was going with me camping – meaning I could save time by not backtracking to get her.  I will admit I was a little nervous about how she would act since she was so young.  At home, Fathom naturally has a sweet and loving temperament. When I take her out on the trail or to the beach by my house she wants to be everyone’s best friend! 

As it turned out, I did not have anything to worry about. Her behavior in the office exceeded her good behavior at home. She not only brought smiles to employees but also to all the patients who came in to the office that day. It is a wonderful feeling when a patient tells me that Fathom has made their day better. This was the start of our Fathom Fridays, where Fathom comes to work with me on the third Friday of every month.  

After bringing her in to the office a few times, I started researching therapy dogs. This is when I learned about the big difference between a therapy dog and a service dog.  The general definition of a therapy dog is one that brings “comfort and affection” to someone who is in a facility where animals are allowed; whereas a service dog is one that has been trained to perform certain tasks for an individual with a disability or special need. There are no set requirements for a therapy dog in the United States, but there are some basic things to keep in mind; good temperament, great with all ages, up to date with all veterinarian recommended vaccines, and of course making sure they are nicely groomed before taking him/her to a facility.  There are different ways to register your dog (or other animal) as well, and some companies do require more than others. You can also look in your local area for available training sessions. All in all, animals have a great power over people and what better feeling than sharing the love of your pet with others. 

- Jamie Corcoran, Dankmeyer Patient Services Representative

If you would like to learn more about therapy dogs and service dogs, Jamie has supplied some links you can click on.

Here is some basic information about therapy dogs: http://www.therapydoginfo.net/

This link leads to some Q&A about service dogs from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html

The American Kennel Club also provides a lot of information and links: http://www.akc.org/events/title-recognition-program/therapy/organizations/

For veterans interested in a service dog: http://www.prosthetics.va.gov/ServiceAndGuideDogs.asp

Now, here's a rogues gallery of pets that are part of the Dankmeyer family!