Say Good-bye

Say Good-bye by Laurie Halse Anderson

Book: Say Good-bye by Laurie Halse Anderson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Laurie Halse Anderson
Therapy” (AAT). AAA programs focus on visiting people to cheer them up and entertain them. In AAT, animals work directly with health-care workers like nurses and physical therapists to help patients recover from illnesses or disabilities.
    A PET A DAY…
    Dogs and other pets were once thought to be too dirty and unsanitary, or even too dangerous, to bring into health-care facilities. But those attitudes changed as studies began to show that interaction with pets can actually improve people’s health.
    Pet visits to a nursing home can help people feel less lonely and depressed and can improve their overall sense of well-being. A pet visiting a hospital can distract patients from their pain and help them feel more hopeful in dealing with medical treatment.
    Research shows that just the act of petting a dog can lower blood pressure. Pets can also decrease feelings of isolation. And when pets visit regularly, it gives people something wonderful to look forward to.
    Dogs have an amazing ability to break the ice between strangers, and give them something to talk about. In fact, bringing a dog into an environment like a nursing home can encourage people to be more social, and the effect lasts even after the pet has gone.
    HOW CAN MY DOG HELP?
    Does AAA sound like something you and your pet might be interested in? Great—but don’t rush off to your local hospital with Fido in tow! Both dogs and people need special training to make sure they’re ready.
    To begin with, your dog needs to be well trained. Can he reliably obey basic commands, such as “sit,” “stay,” “lie down,” and “come”? Can he walk with you under your control or on a leash?
    But it’s not enough for your dog to be well trained. What’s more important is whether he wants to do it. Take the quiz at the end of this article to find out.
    GETTING STARTED
    To learn more about how you and your pet can train to do AAA, check the library for books about pet therapy and read up on what to expect. Then look in your phone book for local organizations, or contact the nearest hospital or nursing home. Many health-care facilities will be involved with an established program and will be able to tell you where to get information. You canalso search under “Pet Therapy” or “Animal Assisted Activities” online (ask a parent for permission and help).
    Even people without pets can sign up to be part of a pet therapy program. Most programs are open to anyone age ten or older. Usually dogs must be at least one year old to participate.
    Go to class. When you find an organization in your area, you’ll be able to sign up for classes. You might study a handbook and watch videos of real pet visits. Many classes will even simulate situations that a dog might encounter on a real visit so that you and your dog can practice.
    Get a checkup. Most organizations will require you to visit your veterinarian to make sure your pet is healthy, disease-free, and up-to-date on shots.
    Pass the test. Many programs will require your dog to pass the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Test. You can find out more about the test through the AmericanKennel Club or your local animal shelter or humane society.
    Get to work. After you’ve completed training, the organization will evaluate your pet and certify that he’s ready to go on visits. Once certified, you and your pet can make visits alone, with your family, or as part of a group. Many groups will even set up regular visits for you.
    Just a pup? If your dog is less than one year old, you can still get started now. Practice basic obedience skills with your dog every day. Slowly help him gel used to being around people outside of your family. Gradually practice taking him into crowds and unusual situations.
    Payback. Training your pet to go into the community is a lot of hard work. But when you see the smiles on the faces of the people you and your dog visit, you’ll know it’s been worth every second.

     
    IS YOUR PET A GOOD

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