Therapy dogs become a staple in assisted-living homes
Comet is a therapy dog in Fairfield that lights up the faces of those he visits with any day or time of year. Dogs like Comet help residents stay engaged, active and communicative. They can also help patients retain and improve certain gross motor skills. Hence patients in rehab might brush dogs to help improve arm extension. Or they might walk dogs to help improve cardiovascular health. That’s why pet therapy has been a staple of daily life at many local rehab, assisted living, and memory care centers for more than a decade.
Therapy dogs must be well mannered, friendly, and neither aggressive nor shy, says Sandra Lok, who runs the Cromwell-based animal therapy organization Tails of Joy. Lok often brings dogs to dementia units, rehabilitation units, and assisted living facilities in Fairfield. She’s found that therapy dogs soothe even the most affected patients, including those with “Sundowner’s Syndrome” and Alzheimer’s. “It’s hard to measure, but you see the benefits right away,” Sandra Lok says. “These dogs can bring people outside of themselves. They offer an opportunity to touch something soft and furry.