Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Winter Discontent - Article from Waterloo Courier

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Winter of discontent: Owner’s mopey mood lifted by energetic pooch
By META HEMENWAY-FORBES, | Posted: Sunday, January 23, 2011 11:30 
Temps are cold, daylight is in short supply and there aren't enough carbs in my cupboard to make up the difference. There's just something about this year's dark, icy grip that, for a couple of weeks recently, made me want to curl up on the sofa with bad TV and a good blanket and wait for spring.
I'd been aware of my mood but had put little effort into reversing the temporary mental slump, figuring the winter blahs would pass.
Then I noticed my pup in a funk. The golden retriever who brings me slobbery toys to throw suddenly seemed mopey. The dog that normally follows me around the house, plays a mean game of tug of war and sleeps at my feet had become glum, down, depressed.
Dr. Lindsey Keller of Pawsitive Pet Care in Waterloo said the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists doesn't know if dogs get the winter blues as people sometimes do.
What veterinarians do know is, ruling out physical illness, depression can be an explanation for a dog's change in behavior. Symptoms can include inactivity, changes in eating or drinking habits and disinterest in things they normally find enjoyable and comforting.
Major changes in a dog's life - loss of an owner or pet companion, moving to a new home, a new baby coming into the home - can trigger depressive behaviors.
But seemingly small things can upset a pooch's emotional applecart, too.
"Any kind of change in their routine or schedule - if they're not getting the play time or exercise they're used to getting, that can be a trigger," Keller said. "It can even be a change in your attitude and your voice. Dogs are very perceptive to that type of thing. If you're moping around, they're very perceptive."
Rudy's routine had changed, and I was to blame. While I moped about, cursing the cold, I took away what my best friend loved the most.
As the temperatures plunged, so had the frequency of our walks. With a warm, water-resistant coat, Rudy is raring to go in any weather. I, however, need several layers of clothing plus boots, hats and mittens to get out the door. And even then it feels too cold.
I'm ashamed to admit that for more than a week I canceled our outdoor excursions, even as Rudy stood hopeful at the front door. He'd follow me to the kitchen, sit near the leash and plead with his soulful, almond-shaped eyes.
Then one night I went to bed, and he didn't follow me. Wandering the house in search of him, I found him in my son's bed, curled up, staring out the window. He longed to be outdoors, catching scents in the breeze, plunging his nose into the snow and cursing the squirrels who dared crossed his path.
It was then I realized that, as his leader, I'd led this beautiful creature right down in the dumps. Now it was time to lead him out.
"When we have a dog (in which) we suspect depression, the first thing we tell owners is keep them engaged and they'll snap out of it," Keller said.
Our walks resumed immediately, and play time is even more frequent than before. My beloved pup once again follows me around the house, happily soaking up my positive energy. Gone is the winter of our discontent.
For a moment, I was proud of myself for rescuing my pup from his dark days. Until I considered that maybe it was Rudy who saved me from mine.
Copyright 2011 All rights reserved. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Here are some of our visitors!  Thanks Linnea Ulrich for sharing the pictures!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Friendship Village

 Pat C. and Donna R. pose with their dogs before going in to bring joy to some of the residents at Friendship Village in Waterloo, Iowa.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Many kinds of animals are used in therapy, including dogs, cats, elephants, birds, dolphins, rabbits, lizards, llamas, and other small animals. Such animals are often referred to as comfort animals.

Physical Benefits

  • Improve fine motor skills.
  • Improve wheelchair skills.
  • Improve standing equilibrioception (balance).
  • May lower blood pressure, risk for stroke or heart attack, and decrease depression.

Mental Benefits
A 2007 meta-analysis found that animal-assisted therapy is associated with moderate effect sizes in improving outcomes in autism spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral problems, and emotional well-being.

  • Increase verbal interactions among group members
  • Increase attention skills (i.e., paying attention, staying on task).
  • Develop leisure/recreation skills.
  • Increase self-esteem.
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Reduce loneliness.
  • Learn to trust.