Canine Assisted Therapy: Dogs Give Back to the Community with Unconditional Love

Canine Assisted Therapy is a nonprofit organization based in Oakland Park, Florida. They work with volunteers and their dogs to provide animal-assisted therapies and companionship. Therapy dogs help the community deal with various issues, such as unexpected tragedies, physical ailments, trauma, and more.

The furry angels with Canine Assisted Therapy help people by providing love, companionship, emotional support, smiles, and tail wags. It takes a specialized and exceptional type of canine to do this type of work.

What is a Therapy Dog and How to Lend a Helping Paw?

Unlike a service animal or an emotional support dog, therapy dogs help a broad range of people and settings, rather than just serving their sole handler. Therapy dogs work at schools, hospitals, correctional facilities, corporate businesses, and more.

What makes a Canine Assisted Therapy (CAT) dog exceptional is not its breed, size, or age. There are specific pre-requisites for dogs to become certified with CAT. Dogs have to be at least one year of age and need to have lived with their owners for a minimum of 6 months. Therapy dogs need to be friendly and enjoy seeking attention from strangers. Dogs also must be in proper health and have received up-to-date vaccinations. Therapy dogs are evaluated based on temperament and behavior. These evaluations include the Canine Good Citizen test. CAT therapy dogs enjoy working with people and regularly offer love and comfort to those desperately in need. If you are interested in your dog becoming a CAT therapy dog, please visit https://catdogs.org/become-a-pet-therapy-team/ for more information.

Children’s Services

There are many different types of services for children in need. Therapy dogs bring comfort to children who have special needs, physical disabilities, or are sick. They also assist kids who are learning how to read. Having a canine companion next to them helps children find their voice. For kids in judicial care, therapy dogs accompany them in court, which can be a very stressful experience. CAT also educates young ones on Bite Prevention, which teaches kids the proper way to interact with dogs.

Therapy Dogs in Schools

In the wake of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, CAT brought teams of therapy dogs to help students and teachers. One dog, in particular, nuzzled the leg of a boy who had just lost his brother. It was as if the dog felt that boy needed special love out of the busy crowd of mourning students. Today Canine Assisted Therapy brings dogs to schools, from preschool to college. This service helps reduce the daily stress that faculty and pupils may experience.

Senior Services

Many seniors are left alone in nursing homes each year. Medicare and Medicaid Services have reported that more than half of nursing home residents have no living close relatives or visitors. How sad it must feel for elderly ones to be left alone. CAT is doing something to change this. They bring their team of therapy dogs to the rescue. Seniors do activities with the dogs including, petting, brushing, walking, and cuddles!

Veterans

We like to honor the veterans that serve our country. Many veterans are afflicted with issues like PTSD, as well as other physical and mental disorders. Therapy dogs save lives. They reduce the number of suicides each year, including those from our veteran heroes.

Distance Healing with Teledog

As the world has encountered the effects of the Covid pandemic, we have learned to connect remotely. CAT’s staff and therapy dogs bring healing to you virtually within your own comfortable space. With Teledog, a CAT therapy dog will make a cameo appearance for your next company video chat or webinar.
Therapy dogs visit people in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, schools, hospices, and more. If you are interested in requesting therapy dog service, please visit https://catdogs.org/request-our-services/ to fill out a service request form.

Ways to Help

Do you want to help and you don’t know where to start? We’ve listed some easy ways to assist the fur babies that assist others.

Plan a Community Event

Therapy dogs are active in participating in various community events. Past events they have participated in have included dog expos, walks, health and safety fairs, and college and corporate stress relief. If you are interested in planning an event in your community, please call 954-990-5175.

Donate

If you would like to donate to Canine Assisted Therapy, you will contribute to a cause that helps countless individuals in need. You can also host a fundraiser for Canine Assisted Therapy! This fundraiser can be a special event, party, or virtual gathering! You can donate any amount by visiting https://catdogs.org/donate/.

Volunteer

Canine Assisted Therapy is in constant need of volunteers. You can volunteer by being part of a pet therapy team. If you do not have a dog, you can still help in many ways. You can become a CAT assistant. Canine Assisted Therapy holds regular orientations every month. You can find out more information by visiting https://catdogs.org/as-a-cat-assistant/.

Meet CAT’s Executive Director

Monica Wesolowski was the Vice President of Marketing and Circulation for the Sun-Sentinel for many years.  Tragedy hit her writing team as they had a shooting in their sister newspaper in Baltimore, MD.  Some of their editorial staff died from the attack.  Monica investigated ways to help her colleagues, and that is when she found out about Canine Assisted Therapy.  Teams of therapy dogs went to the Sun-Sentinel to help them cope.  The therapy dogs inspired Monica to become a volunteer with Canine Assisted Therapy.   Her love of writing led her to a grant-writing position with CAT, and then, she had the honor of being promoted to executive director.  Monica is excited to lead the organization through continued growth.  They are launching a mental health and trauma response program.  What an honor to have Canine Assisted Therapies in our Oakland Park Community! 

The presence of therapy dogs helps people heal from physical and emotional traumas. They provide comfort and empathy for anyone in need. Therapy dogs love unconditionally, and research has continued to show their importance in our society. 

From the beginning of time dogs have stood by humans providing them with all sorts of companionship, love and affection. This unconditional love earned them the well known nickname of man’s best friend. Today we have a deeper understanding of how truly  integral these loving creatures are to our very own human existence and the multiple ways in which their presence can help others. 

Be a part of Oakland Park online!


*LivingInOaklandPark.com is an independent publication, not affiliated with the City of Oakland Park.

About the Author

Megan Rebecca

Megan Rebecca

Megan Rebecca is a classical pianist, singer, composer, writer and music promoter. She holds a Bachelor's and Master’s Degree in Piano Performance. As a performer, Megan has played at many local venues and theaters as both a classical and contemporary performer. She has performed at clubs such as the Open Stage Club in Coral Gables, Jazid in South Beach, and has given recitals at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.

Megan Rebecca is active in the music community as a performer and arts activist and has published articles on music, education and travel. She has also published a thesis comparing and contrasting the music of Disney and Japanese anime.

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Follow LivingInOaklandPark.com in Social Media

Other Posts by Megan

Sign-Up for the LivingInOaklandPark.com Newsletter

Portrait of beautiful smiling girl standing and holding postcard on gray background

%d bloggers like this: