We have always known that interactions with beings that give unconditional love are a heartwarming experience. Modern medicine has found that people who own a pet live longer than those without a furry roommate.
We are finding that animals are therapeutic for patients with a variety of diagnoses including dementia, Alzheimer’s, autism and anxiety disorders. We also have found that animals can lower blood pressure, lift depression, and create a sense of well being
So why is it so unusual to find an animal in a medical office setting?
Since opening my practice in November of 2009, Ricky, my golden retriever, has rarely missed a day of work. He is always eager to jump in the car to begin his job duties even on days that I am not feeling the most exuberant. We get to the office and all of the employees get a hearty greeting complete with tail wagging and sniffing (of certain areas that don’t need further discussion for the sake of this article).
It is then off to the start of a busy day. Patients are greeted as they come in the door. Their shocked expressions are soon replaced by a smile. Ricky doesn’t move on until he has received acknowledgement in some form whether it be a “Hello” or a pat on the head.
I share an office with a geriatric physical therapist and Ricky is always in high demand by the patrons riding the exercise bike. Patients in the waiting room get their greeting as well.
Some of my Alzheimer’s patients show only Ricky their personalities as they lean over to kiss his nose. When I examine their back, the patient reaches out for Ricky giving me information on their mobility and pain without causing this patient discomfort. Some patients request him to be in the room while receiving an injection and he is always there to give a nuzzle or just to offer a wet nose to hold.
He often lies on the floor napping while I am performing the patient’s electrodiagnostic study or placing Botox into a spastic neck muscle creating an aura of peace and tranquility.
Often these procedures can make patients uptight but the room is soon filled with calm as Ricky is heard breathing deeply dreaming doggy dreams and chasing rabbits with his cycling paws.
It is as if too say, “I am so relaxed I am able to nap so there is no need for you to be nervous.” Nothing bad can happen in a room with a sleeping dog.
So do not be surprised the next time you visit your physician and you see a sign stating “DOG ON PREMISES.”
For more information on Barrack Spine & Joint Medicine or to schedule an appointment please contact us today!