How Therapy Animals Help

Posted: May. 3rd, 2013  |  By Michael Pearse

Our furry, four-legged friends can be trained to do some pretty spectacular stuff. Beyond sitting, rolling over and shaking hands, they can be a true friend to us when we're in time of need. Take, for instance, the Visiting Pet Program in New Orleans, where psychological and rehab patients are given the single best thing anyone could ever ask for: a friend who loves you for who you are and doesn’t make any judgments whatsoever.

Judy Haber-Stone adjusts a clover-patterned bandanna on Guinness, a 6-year-old black-and-tan border collie mix, outside The John J. Hainkel Jr. Home and Rehab Center in Uptown. Guinness sits patiently, only raising his tan eyebrows when another dog walks close by.

  For two years, Haber-Stone has volunteered with the Visiting Pet Program, which sends more than 120 pets to comfort patients at more than 20 facilities in Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes. The program was founded in 1987 and is the area's oldest-running animal-assisted activity and therapy program. Hainkel Home is a regular stop.

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