August 2019, Volume 32
Assistance and Therapy Dogs
When Valerie Reed was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000, she was at a loss as to what her next step would be or where to turn. But when she found Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence, she knew that they were exactly what she was looking for. Valerie's dog, Spring, impacts her life and her everyday responsibilities.
"She assists me [with] getting out of bed and my chair, getting dressed, retrieving items, and picking up the pieces I had dropped. My dog provides independence and a sense of happiness and life to my home."
For the majority of her life, Valerie's husband, Tim, took care of her - but then he passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. After losing Tim, Valerie needed the comfort of an assistance dog more than ever. Simply, Spring brought a very special spark into Valerie's life.
Valerie says, "I can provide a loving home for Spring. She fills a big missing part in my life and offers personality back to my home that has been lost."
The dog makes her feel as though Tim is still in the home and can care and assist with whatever Valerie needs the most.
Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence assists individuals with disabilities to gain greater independence by placing service and therapy dogs to help with daily needs. For more than 35 years, the dogs of ADAI have been transforming the lives of many individuals with disabilities.
Assistance Dogs is now one of the programs offered to people with disabilities by the Ability Center of Greater Toledo. The Ability Center began as a Rotarian dream and was established in 1960 as the Toledo Society for Crippled Children. From that point, they began raising funds to build a hospital and rehabilitation facility for children with polio. In 1960, the center became Opportunity Kingdom and began providing opportunities for children with disabilities. In 1976 it was transformed into Toledo Society for the Handicapped which later became the Ability Center of Greater Toledo. The Ability Center now serves seven northwest Ohio counties: Lucas, Ottawa, Wood, Fulton, Henry, Defiance, and Williams.
Although Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence was for many years a separate, independent non-profit, in October 2011 they merged with the Ability Center and became an Ability Center program.
The service dogs that they provide assist clients with everyday tasks, such as opening doors and carrying items. The dogs provide a great boost of self-confidence and self-reliance. Clients who obtain a service dog have public access rights to take their service dog with them wherever the public is allowed.
Special needs therapy dogs provided by the Ability Center are a therapeutic influence in clients' homes. Special needs therapy dogs are particularly beneficial for individuals with autism and Down Syndrome. The presence and loving nature of the therapy dog helps individuals with special needs to open up to the world around them, and helps to improve speech, coordination, and social skills.
To obtain a service dog, the client must:
To obtain a special needs therapy dog, the client must:
- live within 150 miles of ADAI
- be 12 years of age or older
- have a mobility disability
- live within 150 miles of ADAI
- be seven years of age or older
- have a qualifying disability
"Disability, Independent Living, Assistance Dogs, Equipment Loan - Sylvania, Toledo, Ottawa Hills: The Ability Center of Greater Toledo."
The Ability Center, www.abilitycenter.org, The Ability Center, 4 July 2019.
Valerie and Spring information taken from: https://www.abilitycenter.org/what-we-do/success-stories/
The Benefits of Petting Dogs
Research has shown that the presence of, and interaction with, dogs (whether or not they are specially trained as therapy or assistance dogs), provides many benefits, including:
- Petting an animal produces a pleasant feeling on the skin
- Petting a dog releases serotonin and dopamine
- Staring into the eyes of a dog can trigger oxytocin response
- Petting a dog has been shown to decrease cortisol levels
- Pets provide valuable companionship
- Owning a dog leads to being more active and reduced blood pressure
Linell Weinberg, former director of the Autism Society of Northwest Ohio, now retired, shared about the effect that her Newfoundland, Violet, certified as a therapy dog through Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs, has on residents of a skilled nursing and rehab facility when they visit:
"Many of the people start talking about dogs they have or used to have. One woman told me about her Irish Setter who was used in a commercial where the whole family had red hair. There is one young woman who was in a terrible car accident and cannot talk. She has some physical issues, too. Her parents say she likes animals and when she sees Violet she makes a 'happy noise' and attempts to pet her (although she has to be helped.)"
Linell and Violet also visit, along with other therapy dogs and their owners, a school that specializes in children with autism.
"There have been several kids who were afraid to come in the room with the dogs who now come in and pet them. Even the kids who are not very verbal will usually say some words. The more verbal kids will ask about the dogs or talk to us."
For more information on the benefits of dogs, see the link that follows:
AUGUST ACTIVITY TIP
August is National Lemon Month
PERFECT LEMONADE RECIPE
- 1 cup white, granulated sugar (can reduce to 3/4 cup)
- 1 cup water (for the simple syrup)
- 1 cup lemon juice
- 2 to 3 cups cold water (to dilute)
- Make "simple syrup": Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir so that the sugar dissolves completely and remove from heat.
- Juice the lemons: While the water is heating for the simple syrup, juice your lemons. Depending on the size of the lemons, 4 to 6 of them should be enough for one cup of juice.
- Combine lemon juice, simple syrup, and water: Pour the juice and the simple syrup sugar water into a serving pitcher. Add 2 to 3 cups of cold water and taste. Add more water if you would like it to be more diluted (though, note that when you add ice, it will melt and naturally dilute the lemonade). If the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it.
- Chill: Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes.
Serve with ice and sliced lemons. Serves 6.
Lemon Sugar Hand Scrub
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup Epsom salts
- 6 drops lemon essential oil
- 3 tablespoons almond oil
- Stir all the ingredients together until well mixed.
- Store in an air-tight container.
- To use, wash your hands and then massage a teaspoon or two of the scrub all over your hands. Rinse with warm water. Pat hands dry.