Animal Advocacy

How Pet Therapy Has Changed Assisted Living

posted December 27th, 2015 by
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Pet Therapy

Pet Therapy in Senior Living

from a place for mom

By Mary Park Byrne

Last Updated: January 12, 2015

It doesn’t take a scientist to know that pets make humans feel good; anyone who’s ever stroked a dog’s fur or felt a cat’s thrumming purr knows this. Science can, however, tell us how and why pets can be therapeutic. Just 15 minutes bonding with an animal sets off a chemical chain reaction in the brain, lowering levels of the fight-or-flight hormone cortisol and increasing production of the feel-good hormone serotonin. The result: heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels immediately drop. Over the long term, pet and human interactions can lower cholesterol levels, fight depression and may even help protect against heart disease and stroke. This is why pets for the elderly can be so beneficial.

PET CARE & SENIOR LIVING

One of the biggest concerns of allowing seniors to bring their beloved pets to assisted living communities is that the program needs to ensure the pets’ well-being. Duvall, Washington veterinarian, Dr. Kevin Sievers, comments on the importance of the pets’ needs: “Humans benefit greatly from the companionship of a pet. An animal in the life of a senior can give them new meaning and improve their well-being, so it is important for seniors to have a pet in their living environment. I also think it’s very important to remember the health needs of the pets. Seniors can forget to properly medicate or even feed their pets. Senior living communities need to be able to help their residents care for their pets to ensure the health and happiness of both the seniors and their pets.” So the key to an overall healthy relationship for both the senior and the pet is to have a pet friendly assisted living community that can ensure proper care for the pet, if the owner is not capable.

Fortunately, many senior living communities are on board with this service and even have a Pet Care Coordinator at their communities to help make sure all the pets are well cared for and are up-to-date on vaccines and veterinary care. This ensures the pets are groomed, fed, walked and happy when they otherwise wouldn’t be if the senior is not able to perform these responsibilities.

PET THERAPY’S AMAZING IMPACT ON QUALITY OF LIFE

For seniors, the benefits of a furry companion can be life-changing. Walking a dog is great cardiovascular exercise, but just the simple act of caring for a pet-petting, brushing, feeding-provides both mild activity and a means to stay engaged with the world. Pets can make the elderly feel needed, and that feeling can translate into a greater sense of purpose and self-worth. During what can be a lonely time of life, the unconditional love of a cherished dog or cat can be a bridge to more socialization with others, lowered stress, mental stimulation and a renewed interest in life.

In the past, a move to a nursing home or retirement community meant giving up this important bond with the animal world. While many retirement communities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes still don’t allow pets, it’s great that many of these assisted living communities have decided to integrate pets into their communities, as the pet therapy benefits to the elderly is overwhelming.

“We don’t just let them in,” says Steve Winner, co-founder of Silverado Senior Living with a chuckle, “we require them. Pets are an integral part of what we do.” From the start, Silverado has embraced the power of pets and pet therapy for the elderly to make happier lives for those affected by dementia.

Assisted living communities in the Silverado network not only have dogs, cats and fish on site, but also miniature horses, llamas, chinchillas, and even baby kangaroos. “We ask senior residents to help us care for them,” says Winner. “The responsibility of caring for other living beings builds self-esteem.”

Pets are not only beneficial to their owners, but have also proven to have positive effects on other senior residents at assisted living facilities. “Sometimes new residents can be withdrawn and not very communicative, and it’s the first interaction with an animal that draws them out,” says Winner. “They’re pulled out of their shell by the pets.”

PET THERAPY’S IMPACT ON SUNDOWNERS SYNDROME & DEMENTIA

Pet therapy for the elderly has also proven to be a powerful tool for what’s known as “Sundowners Syndrome” evening periods of increased agitation and confusion in those with Alzheimer’s. Animals’ non-verbal communication and profound acceptance can be soothing for those with difficulty using language; some may even connect with memories of their own treasured pets.

The San Diego Humane Society’s Pet-Assisted Therapy Program has noticed how even the most profoundly affected patients have displayed improved appetite, more social interaction and tactile and cognitive stimulation after interactions with pets. “Animals provide unconditional love and emotional support in a way that is unparalleled. Our Pet-Assisted Therapy program brings the joys of animals to people who are otherwise unable to have an animal in their life, such as those living in facilities such as convalescent homes, hospitals, mental health centers, children’s homes and juvenile detention centers,” says Judith Eisenberg, Pet-Assisted Therapy Coordinator for the San Diego Humane Society. “What an animal can give and teach is a powerful source of healing and personal connection.” In this way, pet therapy is an excellent way to provide an extra dimension of happiness to senior citizens.

We encourage you to contact communities individually to learn about their pet policy and find out if there are weight or breed restrictions as well as community pet care programs.

RELATED RESOURCES

Find Pet-Friendly Assisted Living

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The Gift of Life

posted December 17th, 2015 by
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Looking Back

The Gift of Life

The spirit of giving is alive and well at the Richardson Birthing and Special Needs Center, a division of PAAS Vinita.   The following stories are written from the heart by Vicki who oversees the birthing center – – she and her husband Tom play key roles in saving the lives of special dogs.  It is truly a gift.

Over the past several years we have taken in, cared for and either adopted out or adopted ourselves, many special needs dogs. Crippled, cancer, very ill, heart disease, failure to thrive pups and kittens. They also need to be considered in the rescue world. When you look into their eyes and they look back, you can see them just asking for help. Let me recap just a few.
Camille, a little 6 yr. old mini doxie, was brought into Second Chance Shelter 3 years ago. She was pregnant, had massive infections on her skin and in her mouth. When it came time to have her pups, she was so weak, she couldn’t do it, so had a c-section. After they were weaned we noticed a nodule in one of her breasts. Removal and biopsy showed cancer, a slow growing one, but cancer never the less. 6 months later it came back and was removed again. 6 months after that, it was back, and the docs remove almost the entire breast. It never recurred after that, but no one was interested in adopting her, so we did. After 3 years of having her, we got a call from one of Tom’s high school friends that her father, actually the preacher that married Tom and I, had been recently widowed, and felt he needed a dog to keep him company. Tom took a couple of fosters we had and at the last minute, threw in Camille. She had done well with us, but was a very needy little girl, and had a difficult time sharing me with the other dogs. It was a match made in heaven. He has had her for 3 months now and adores her and spoils her rotten.
The GiftBubba Henry, a little shih tzu, paralyzed in the back legs, was pulled from a high kill shelter in OKC, on the day he was to be euthanized. He came to us a year ago. We worked with him, but the damage was too bad and we eventually got him a wheel chair. He is very sweet, loving and ours.
Strawberry, a little schnauzer, yorkie mix was stepped on by her mama when she was just a few days old. A young couple took her and raised her with such love and compassion, but financial and time constraints, forced them to look elsewhere for care for her. They knew she had very little quality of life, but were so attached to her they reached out to us to take her, instead of having her euthanized. She was about 7 months old at the time. She was very independent and determined to do what the other dogs did. We had her several months and worked with her legs, built her a wheelchair and she was eventually was adopted to a home where a 14 year old girl wanted a special needs pup. She is fiercely protective of her family now, and goes all over the ranch. Her legs have gotten stronger, and she even herds the goats.
There are many others, but will give just one more example. Little Skipper was brought into PAAS in Vinita. He was an older skipperke. His teeth were rotten, he couldn’t eat and was very weak. First thing they did, was get him to a foster home (us), and get his teeth cleaned. He gradually gained strength and after a month or so, was integrated into our family, running in the yard and laying in the sun. After 3 months a couple contacted the shelter. They saw his picture in the paper and were hoping that it was their little dog, they had been looking for for 3 months. It was and they were happily reunited a week ago.
Would it have been better to euthanize these dogs? This is usually what happens to dogs in these situations. But the wonderful people that adopted these dogs, love them in spite of, or maybe because, they are special.   They see the courage, determination, love and loyalty in their eyes and would not give them up for anything.

Kay Stout, Director   PAAS Vinita   [email protected]   918-256-7227     Facebook      Twitter

This Holiday Season

posted December 10th, 2015 by
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Looking Back

Holiday SeasonHoliday Season

This holiday season remember those who serve others.  Vicki oversees our birthing center and the following heartfelt story says it perfectly.  Remember the shelters and rescues – – they need your help and support.

As most of you know, we had another litter of puppies born at our house on Thanksgiving morning. These are blessed events are part of Tom and I’s ministry here on earth. We have had countless puppies born at our house. Some have needed c-sections, others, such as Foxy would have died in the birth process, if she had been left in a shelter. When we lived in California, I was well schooled in the birth process of dogs by my then boss, Dr. Sue Buxton. Little did I know how handy that would be when we moved to Oklahoma, but the all knowing Father knew. It is funny how things work out, if we just follow His lead. Sometimes I feel like I am going blindly, but have to trust. Tom and I feel blessed to be entrusted with the care of these little ones that we know are precious to Him, but sometimes forgotten.

Unfortunately, the need is great. We long for a time when the birthing tubs and boxes are no longer needed. When people learn that their animals need to be spayed and neutered. I am not talking about the quality breeders of specific breeds, but the puppy mills, and backyard breeders, and irresponsible dog owners that have clogged our shelters and streets with unwanted pets. These unwanted ones face horrible tortuous lives. We must all become conscious of this problem. As animal lovers, if each of us could take up the cause, it would make a big difference. It does not have to be rescue and fostering, although that is extremely important, it is not for everyone. You could be a volunteer at your local shelter, even those who think they have no skills, can learn. Walking dogs, cuddling kitties, tearing newspapers, working at the desk as a greeter, helping with computer work, cleaning cages. I did all of this before I found my niche, so did Tom. If you have time constraints, but have a few extra dollars, they would most be appreciated to help defray the enormous cost of this effort. If you are unable to do any of this, talk it up, encourage people to spay and neuter their pets, help out with one of the many spay and neuter clinics run in our area. We in the business call them SNEUTERS. Share posts of available dogs on Facebook. Unlimited opportunities are there for people that want to help. It will help the animals, and make you feel so blessed.

 

Kay Stout, Executive Director    PAAS, Vinita, Oklahoma    628 S Wilson  918-256-7227

When words trump actions

posted November 24th, 2015 by
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Looking Back

When Words TrumpWhen words trump actions

This blog will be read by most people around the Thanksgiving holidays.  Trust me – I’m not going to write about family get-togethers, discussions, or traditions. This is about rescue.

Over the years I’ve frequently had “frying pan” experiences – where suddenly I just knew something.  One of my most memorable – and one that has stood the test of time is:  How do I want to be remembered?”.  There have been times I spoke up and, more often, times I zipped my lips.

I never forget that the dogs and cats who enter our lives do not care who we are – they’re just grateful we’ve saved them.  Those actions trump words every time.  The challenge, however, is too many passionate people who’re involved in rescue have no filter, or a really bad filter, on what they say and when they say it.  If you lose sight of saving the animals, the words that come out of their mouths will trump their actions.  When that happens, it’s the animals who pay the price – and they do not have a voice.

What puzzles me is why someone would want to be remembered not for the good they’ve done in rescue; but for the obnoxious, unprofessional, words that have spilled out of their mouths.  All too often those words derail a rescue, cause undue hardship, and create challenges for future collaboration.

At this time of year, if I had the power to give a gift to those in rescue, it would be the following:  Work together, zip the lip, and save lives.

Kukur Tihar

posted November 17th, 2015 by
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Kukur Tihar

From http://themindunleashed.org/

There is an entire day during a festival in Nepal dedicated solely to thanking dogs for their loyalty and friendship. The time itself is called “Diwali” celebrated by Hindus, and is a ‘festival of lights’ celebrated by millions every year in the fall, in india, nepal and elsewhere.

Specific to Nepal, there is a day during this celebration dedicated to all the Dogs, called Kukur Tihar, specifically to thank our 4-legged companions for always being our loyal friends.

dogss
Image source: imgur

Tihar is a five day Hindu festival, but the second day is reserved for our loyal companions.

It is called Kukur Tihar or Kukur Puja (worship of the dogs).

festival for dogs
Image source: Imgur

People offer garlands, tika (a mark worn on the forehead), and delicious food to dogs, and acknowledge the cherished relationship between humans and dogs.

festival for dogs

The garlands are a sign of respect for the animals.

Because dogs are the best people.

festival for dogs
Image source: imgur.com
festival for dogs
Inage source: imgur

The images honoring these animals are truly breathtaking.

tihar
Image source

The thought of this beautiful festival is lightening the heavy hearts of dog lovers everywhere, amid horrendous news bites from another kind of festival in Yulin, China, recently.

dogss
Image source: Rebloggy

With red powder, the dogs are marked on their foreheads as a sign of sacredness.

I really love this.

Turkey Dogs

posted November 15th, 2015 by
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Turkey Dogs

Turkey Dogs

Turkey DogsTurkey Dogs are coming!  Get ready to welcome our first group of Goldens arriving from Istanbul, Turkey just in time for Thanksgiving!
SGRR has partnered with Gold Ribbon Rescue in Austin to participate in the rescue of eighteen Golden Retrievers from shelters in and around Istanbul, Turkey. These Goldens are set to arrive later this month in Houston, TX and SGRR and GRR-TX volunteers will be there to welcome them to their new homeland. SGRR will bring four of these needy souls back to Oklahoma to start their new lives as spoiled house Goldens.

How Can You Help?

FOSTER a Turkey Dog!
We are looking for four families interested in fostering these Goldens when they arrive in Oklahoma from Houston. If you are interested in becoming a temporary foster home for one of the Turkey Dogs, please email us at [email protected] or call the GoldenLine at 405-749-5700 and leave your contact information. Please consider fostering a Turkey Dog!
DONATE to Support the Turkey Dog Mission!
As you can imagine, the costs associated with rescuing these forgotten Goldens is substantial so your financial support is critical to this and any future Turkey Dog operations. SGRR’s participation in this project will NOT jeopardize our ability to assist any local Goldens in need in our normal service area. Any participation in future Turkey Dog missions will depend on the financial support we receive from our supporters for this effort. You can donate through PayPal at our website: www.sgrr.org; or you can mail your check to: SGRR, PO Box 57139, OKC, OK 73157-7139. All donations are tax deductible.

Why Turkey Dog Rescues?

Istanbul’s struggle with a large population of stray animals dates back more than 100 years. Some people estimate that the number of stray dogs on the city’s streets exceeds 50,000 – not including the dogs that live in the city’s 30-plus animal shelters.

The ownership of purebred dogs has always been seen as a status symbol in the western parts of Istanbul. About 10 years ago, golden retrievers were the most sought after breed. They were becoming very popular in Hungary, Italy and Germany and initially, only those of means could afford to get one. When pet stores in Turkey began importing lots of puppies, more and more people purchased them and, becoming “common,” they lost their standing as a status symbol and were no longer valued.

When owners could no longer take care of the dogs or when they no longer wanted them, these dogs ended up in the forests surrounding the city or on the streets, abandoned and left to fend for themselves. The most common route to life on the street was a call to the local authorities who would pick up the dog and bring it to a shelter (there are 32 in Istanbul). Once at the shelter, volunteers would take the dogs to the vets to spay or neuter the dog, administer a rabies shot, tattoo or tag the ear to show it had received this care, and then let out the door to live on the street. The most unlucky ones are those let go, either by municipality authorities or their owners, in the forests around Istanbul where they usually fall prey to the feral dog packs that roam the areas. A very few lucky ones spend years in the shelters – that is as good as their life will ever get. Over the years, since being abandoned and set loose, the golden retrievers have gotten good at surviving on the streets of Istanbul, however, the life of a stray is not easy and food is not always forthcoming, shelter hard to find, and abuse at human hands is far too common.

There is no hope for these dogs in Istanbul. There is no adoption there. Without help from a rescue, they will live the remainder of their lives roaming the streets and begging to survive. All of these dogs are young – they do not live to see the “senior years.” We estimate that there are approximately 800+ purebred goldens living in the streets/forests/shelters in Istanbul…. A small percentage of the 50,000 which is why you don’t see many on the streets but those 800 are precious to us.

How did SGRR Get Involved?

A concerned American living in Istanbul saw these roaming dogs and contacted Adopt a Golden Atlanta [www.adoptagoldenatlanta.com] asking for help. After an exhaustive four month process, AGA brought the first thirty-six Goldens to American soil earlier this year. Since then, with support from AGA, other Golden rescue groups across the country have partnered to rescue a total of more than 150 Goldens to date.

SGRR heard of this need and our Board decided that we must join this national effort. This mission is supported by the Golden Retriever Club of America – National Rescue Committee. One by one, Golden by Golden, we make a difference.