Dog owners already know that pups make people happier but studies now show they help speed up healing. Kris Wiley is a mental health practitioner at CHI Health in Omaha and says the benefits of owning a dog or being around one on a regular basis can do miraculous things.
Wiley says, “Research has shown that it can reduce anxiety, it can reduce people’s blood pressure. Some research has even shown that petting a dog will start our body to release oxytocin, which is a feel-good hormone.” Other research shows that pets lessen depression, decrease feelings of loneliness and even help dementia patients recover memories of their own dogs. All of these factors can help a body heal.
Wiley calls this Wag Therapy and it is welcome at five CHI Health hospitals. Several of the volunteers include Molly, a yellow lab trained in animal assisted therapy, Lucy an energetic beagle-basset mix and Captain Fred, a black lab with a wagging tail. These and other dogs brighten days, relieve stress and make most people smile. She says the dogs are a welcome distraction from the stress and anxiety of a trip to the hospital.
CHI Health is welcoming their canine buddies to their Lakeside location on January 30th from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. and the public is invited to stop by.