Dobby, a Zuchon (shih-tzu/bichon frise mix), is a therapy dog in training. He likes playing ball, swimming, and eating bones, Goldfish crackers and apples. Dobby especially loves playing with his two buddies, Sophie and Bella. He is happy, loving and enjoys attention from kids and adults.
Animal-assisted therapy has many benefits and has been proven to improve both mental and physical health. Merely introducing an animal into a therapeutic environment can instantly build rapport between client and therapist and decrease the anxiety of the first session. Animals have been very helpful across the lifespan including working with children, adolescents, adults and the elderly and addressing a variety of issues such as pervasive development disorder, ADHD, behavioral disorders, abuse, domestic violence, dementia, depression, and anxiety.
Dogs in particular have demonstrated themselves to be excellent therapeutically in the event of trauma or crisis and have been included on many crisis response teams and trauma groups. When working with children, a dog can easily be incorporated into play therapy and help enhance self-esteem, build empathy and develop nurturing and socialization skills. For adults, dogs can encourage relaxation and decrease blood pressure, encourage outward thinking, enhance self-esteem, provide much needed laughter and companionship and help develop social skills.
While not always appropriate in counseling, when an animal is included strategically, it can facilitate many of these skills and can make the idea of going to talk to a counselor less intimidating. Dobby is excited about his new role helping others. Dobby is a hypo-allergenic dog and does not shed.