Dogs are amazing creatures. Anyone who has loved a dog can probably attest to the healing power of simply being around their furry friend. It's true, the connection you feel with your dog actually has benefits for your body and mind. Simply petting a dog decreases levels of stress hormones and lowers blood pressure. This is because when you pet your dog, an anti-stress hormone called oxytocin is released. Oxytocin affects bonding and affection in both humans and dogs.
Dog’s also have a tremendous impact on emotional healing. After the Sandy Hook shooting, therapy dogs were brought in for the survivors. Children who had not been able to talk to their parents about the events felt safe enough to confide in the therapy dogs about what had happened. The more the children talked to the dogs, the more they were able to open up to their parents and counselors. The dogs assisted the survivors on their emotional healing journey.
Therapy dogs have also been used in emotional healing for people struggling with their mental health. Frannie Kass, a 20-year-old student at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, was struggling with severe anxiety and agoraphobia. That is, until she was paired with her therapy dog, Lexi. The goldendoodle was so attuned to the student that she could sense the breathing changes in Kass that signaled a panic attack. Lexi then put pressure on Kass’s legs with her paws to short circuit her rising anxiety. The cuddly dog has made an immense change in the young woman’s life.
New Life K9s and PTSD
The dogs of New Life K9s have brought life-changing benefits to veterans and first responders with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). One out of every three veterans who seek treatment for their mental health have PTSD. New Life K9’s provides therapy dogs that are trained to alleviate the hardships that come with a life affected by PTSD.
New Life K9s provide healing support in unique and comforting ways. Often someone with PTSD has sleep difficulties. Knowing their dog is beside them and keeping a watchful eye on them is a comfort. The dogs can sense a change in their human’s sleep pattern to detect a nightmare, lend comfort, and switch on the light.
New Life K9s guide their human partner through crowds that can be daunting and act as a physical barrier. They provide physical support to their partner who may need a brace to stand. Helping a disabled partner to dress, or reminding them to take medication are also on their list of talents. They help to generate human interaction with their partners and others and give the veterans and first responders reasons to get up in the morning.
New Life K9s go through extensive dog training steps to learn practical tasks that will help to make the lives of their future veteran or first responder more livable. After the two year program, they graduate and are provided to their chosen recipient at no cost.
All proceeds from Thousand Hills Pet Resort support New Life K9s. New Life K9s provides service dogs to veterans and first responders with PTSD at no cost to them.