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Fresh Air Magazine

Dog Days

For many, a canine encounter brightens the day

Linda McDaniel's eyes lit up as Grace, a friendly Afghan Hound, pranced into the room. She smiled and petted her as Grace's mother, Moriah, patiently stood behind, waiting for her share of the attention.

The two dogs are therapy dogs in training and have been visiting with Rockcastle patients since the spring of 2018.

Twice a month, on Sunday afternoon after church, Jenny Collier and her daughter Lydia bring Moriah and Gracie to the ventilator unit. They visit for about two hours with whomever might enjoy their company.

"The residents seem to really look forward to it," Jenny said.

For many in the ventilator unit, one of the things they miss most about home is their pets. "For them, you mention a pet, and they just light up."

Spending a few minutes with the canines brightens their day, Jenny said. It provides a lively subject for conversation, and may re-kindle old memories of previously owned pets.

Jenny, a licensed clinical social worker who works for Rockcastle Regional as a mental health therapist, has observed that the even-tempered duo can also have a calming effect on those they visit.

In fact, research indicates that through petting, touching, and talking with animals, patients' blood pressure is lowered, stress is relieved, and depression is eased.

Jenny plans to have Moriah and Grace certified as therapy dogs by Therapy Dogs International.

"We feel blessed to have these dogs," Jenny said. "They are so intelligent and have such good temperaments. We're honored to be able to share them."

"We are committed to providing the best quality of life possible for our patients," said Stephen A. Estes, President and CEO. "And this is another way we can achieve the goal, by striving to provide the small things, the simple pleasures in addition to the highest quality of care possible.”

Respiratory Care Center

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