Everybody loves dogs and studies show that interactions with animals can decrease stress levels in humans. But its not just stress that these dogs can help with, they can assist people with a physical disability, or someone who’s deaf. Assistance dogs can also be partnered with people with autism or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Assistance dogs are generally breeds who are calm. Due to their docility and ability to learn commands, they are first placed in a host family who take care of his training and teaches him obedience and other traits. They are then later trained to assist specially-abled people. Partnership with an assistance dog has been shown to have significant benefits for the human partner. These benefits include increased ability of people to perform activities of daily living; psychological/emotional health improvement and participation in social, work, and school activities outside the home.
In fact, Dave Thurman, the new dean, and chief executive officer of Northeastern University at Seattle, also believes that the presence of Ashlynn, a yellow Labrador-Golden Retriever mix puppy he’s raising, will have a constructive influence on everything he does. “A dog can have a soothing effect in an office environment,” Thurman said. “Just having a dog in the room lowers the tension level for people.”
Playing with or petting an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin. It also decreases the production of the stress hormone cortisol. But these assistance dogs also serve a greater call. For example, a deaf driver nudged by a service dog at the sound of an approaching ambulance, or the children and parents in the cancer ward who find comfort from the dog that patiently and gently wishes to nurture and play. Both the dog and the human interchangeably provide a sense of security and safety for each other. Their value for mankind and their ability to skillfully assist their human partners is truly incredible.