By Lisa Hill, OTAS, and Larissa Heeren, OTAS
Therapy can be found everywhere these days, and it comes in many forms. However, when it comes to therapy dogs, most people think of the large breed dogs such as German Shepherds or Labradors. But, that is not always the case.
Please meet Spuds and Ribbie, the two lovable companions of Mackenzie Lowrance COTA/L, CPAM. Mackenzie is a graduate of the Lewis and Clark Community College Occupational Therapy Assistant Program. She is currently employed as a Licensed and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant with a Certificate in Physical Agent Modalities. This means she can treat clients with light, water, temperature, sound, or electricity in preparation or in combination with occupational therapy interventions. Spuds and Ribbie are not only her companions but also her coworkers.
Spuds crossed Mackenzie’s path when he was approximately 8 weeks old and only weighed 2 lbs! He tried crossing the road on a rural highway in front of her, so she scooped him up and made him her own. Mackenzie soon began to train Spuds and his first accomplishment was the American Kennel Club (AKC) good citizen course. After this certificate, he began to go to work with Mackenzie. He was practically a veteran when he tested for Therapy Dogs International and received his official license.
Ribbie was the runt of her litter that came from a friend of Mackenzie’s and at 6 weeks old weighing in at an amazing ½ lb, Mackenzie took her home to meet Spuds. Mackenzie eventually began to work with Ribbie and had her tested with Therapy Dogs International also. Ribbie was awarded her license and soon began to go to work with Mackenzie too. Both Ribbie and Spuds had very sweet temperaments and both of them loved being with people. Their wonderful dispositions have made them very successful therapy dogs and they have been loving life in the working world ever since.
Spuds and Ribbie are excellent examples of how important therapy dogs have become in the medical field. The dogs bring peace and happiness to those with illness and disability. And, as Spuds and Ribbie have proven, therapy dogs can come in all shapes and sizes. These kinds of dogs have a presence in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, hospice, home visits, libraries, schools, shelters and anywhere else there are people with a need to feel their love and comfort. In fact, libraries have started implementing programs called Tail Waggin’ Tutors where children read to dogs as a way to promote literacy.
As Occupational Therapy Assistant students, we urge all pet owners to visit the Therapy Dogs International’s webpage at http://www.tdi-dog.org to learn more about this awesome way the dogs of the world are making a big difference in people’s lives on a daily basis.
Let us know if your pet would make a good co-worker in the comments below.