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Published on April 10, 2009

Canine Achievements

April 10, 2009 


Any well-rounded organization has highly talented individuals. Kishwaukee Community Hospital happens to have human and canine high-achievers.

Abbey, a Great Pyrenees in the Healing Paws program, has been involved in therapy programs since 2004 in hospitals and for six years in nursing homes and at the Cancer Center. She recently received an award in Santa Barbara, California, for having done over 300 hours of therapy work. The award was presented by the Great Pyrenees Club of America West. She also received a title award, AAT&T (Animal Assisted Therapy & Activity) which she can now add to her name. Abbey loves doing therapy work and the people like Abbey. She can bring a smile to anyone.

Kishwaukee Community Hospital ’s Animal-Assisted Activity program, Healing Paws, has been providing opportunities for patients to benefit from the healing power of animal contact since December 2006.

The Delta Society’s website provides a formal definition and description of Animal-Assisted Activities:

"AAA provides opportunities for motivational, educational, recreational, and/or therapeutic benefits to enhance quality of life. AAA are delivered in a variety of environments by specially trained professionals, paraprofessionals, and/or volunteers, in association with animals that meet specific criteria" (from Standards of Practice for Animal-Assisted Activities and Therapy).

What does this really mean? Animal-assisted activities are basically the casual "meet and greet" activities that involve pets visiting people. The same activity can be repeated with many people, unlike a therapy program that is tailored to a particular person or medical condition.

The Key Features of AAA:

  • Specific treatment goals are not planned for each visit.
  • Volunteers and treatment providers are not required to take detailed notes.
  • Visit content is spontaneous and visits last as long or are as short as needed.

Examples of AAA:

  • A group of volunteers takes their dogs and cats to a nursing home once a month to "visit." The visit occurs as a large-group activity with some direction and assistance provided by facility staff. The volunteer group facilitator keeps an informal log about who was visited.
  • An individual brings her dog to a children's long-term care facility to "play" with residents. Although the staff is involved in the visits, the staff has not set treatment goals for the interactions. Aside from signing in and out, no records are kept.
  • A dog obedience club gives an obedience demonstration at a residential facility for teenagers with delinquent behavior.

For more information about the Healing Paws program, please contact Teresa Holliday, KCH Infection Control Coordinator, at 815.756.1521, x154048.

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