Some patients pat Gus while they talk to Dr. Ramsey. A few talk to Gus instead. And if they get emotional, Gus provides physical comfort that therapists can't offer. "We can't hug patients, but patients can hug Gus..."
"Coming to this office can be unnerving for dementia patients, but when they see a dog, it's disarming. They feel comforted and safe," she says... Early in his practice, child psychologist Aubrey Fine treated a 9-year-old girl who was painfully withdrawn and refused to speak until his golden retriever, Puppy, laid her head in the girl's lap. The girl slowly began patting Puppy, smiled and spoke to her as her astonished parents looked on...
While there are no set requirements for having an animal assistant, most dogs who work with doctors have been trained in obedience and as therapy dogs... Of course, some patients are allergic or frightened around animals. Most doctors who practice with dogs inform patients before the first visit, and put the pup elsewhere for part of the day if necessary. But most find that practicing with a dog is a draw for patients, not a deterrent.
Much more at the link, including diagnostic skills attributed to dogs, and why dogs are better than cats in an office setting.
Link. Photo credit Michal Czerwonka.