Ever heard of therapy dogs? As much as our own furkids bring happiness to us, why not let them spread the happiness to more people? Recently, more and more owners are signing their dogs up to be a therapy dog in Singapore. Therapy dogs are trained to provide affection and comfort to those who need it, be it young or old. Therapy dogs organizations usually provide such sessions to hospitals, retirement and nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, and people with autism. Of course, not any dog is fit for the job. Before qualifying to be an official therapy dog, all dogs need to go through an assessment held by professionals. Not only does your dog have to be sociable, it needs to be obedient and trained to a certain extent. Well, if you are unsure on whether your dog is suitable to be a therapy dogs, just drop the organizations an email and they will be quick to help! Being a therapy dog is indeed a stressful job! However, it is a chance for both humans and their dogs to do something very meaningful for the less fortunate.
Therapy Dogs Singapore (TDS) was established in 2004 by a group of dog lovers. TDS aims to share the unconditional love and affection of their furry companions through Pet Assisted Therapy (PAT). PAT is a process that meet physical and socio-emotional needs of society’s disadvantaged. Today, TDS has over 100 members with the common goal of sharing the spirit of serving the community with their furry pals. Other than PAT, TDS conducts regular Animal Assisted Activity (AAA) sessions to its seven adopted homes, comprising of nursing homes, health institutions and special schools. These AAT programmes are integrated and managed closely with physiotherapy and occupational therapy goals to select individuals.
2. Healing Paws
Healing Paws started providing Animal Assisted Activity (AAA) sessions in 2014. Healing Paws is an initiative by Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD), one of Singapore’s biggest dog shelters. Through Healing Paws, it provides SOSD’s rescued dogs a chance to give back to society, which has given them a second chance. Both Healing Paws and SOSD live by the core values of love, compassion and tolerance to all living beings, especially to those in need. Currently, Healing Paws conduct sessions every week in both elderly and children’s homes. Healing Paws sessions are always filled with laughter and join for dogs, residents, staffs and volunteers! There is a blessing is the joy of shared laughter.
Although not publicised or easily found on internet, some elderly or children care centres or homes do hold their own private pet therapy sessions. Recently, local dog community, Mini Singapaws organized one at St Luke’s Hospital. There are so many care centres around your neighbourhood, approach these centres and ask! For all you know, they may be already having their own sessions. If you have some free time to spare, we highly recommend you to be a therapy dog volunteer. Not only does it act as a bonding activity to stimulate your pet’s mental health, the happiness you get from volunteering is priceless too!