In January 2107, HHNHC welcomed Chiquita, a little bundle of fur and whiskers – she is a Chihuahua, Shiatzu and Maltese cross who was 8 weeks old and less than 1 kg when she began her duties at the clinic – officially our youngest and lightest employee ever.
Why did we decided to have a therapy dog at HHNHC anyway? Did you know that a dog helps lower stress levels and improves mood? They also help stabilise blood pressure and reduce anxiety. Research has also found that assistance/therapy dogs ensure patients aren’t as fearful of their treatment and oftentimes recover quicker.
In fact, the power of pets as healers is now so widely recognised that many major public institutions such as the Mater hospital and even the prisons now have therapy dogs: they have found to exert a calming influence on patients and prisoners alike.
Did you know pet owners:
· Visit the doctors less often and use less medication
· On average, they have lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure
· Recover more quickly from illness and surgery and deal better with stress
· Are less likely to be lonely
And it’s working – our littlest patients love her and they are far less fearful of blood tests etc that we frequently need to perform at the clinic.
Some patients even drop by just to see Chiquita after they have had a stressful day. It is amazing how she knows – she may be my room with me when I hear the front door open. On these occasions, she barks to be let out of my room and when I check to see where she has gone, I find her nestled on the lap of someone who just needed a little bit of pet therapy.
So come and say ‘Hello”. Chiquita gives her pats and therapy for free.