A dog may be just what the doctor ordered

Bowie may not be a therapy dog but all dog owners can benefit from mans best friend.

Bowie may not be a therapy dog but all dog owners can benefit from mans best friend.


Dogs have a special bond with humans.

Guide dogs, bomb or drug-sniffing dogs, police k-9 service dogs all have played well documented roles in history.

Man’s best friend, has never been truer.

“Your dog loves you unconditionally, it’s just such a lovely aspect of dogs,” said Heidi Van Willegen, co-team leader of Therapeutic Paws of Canada-Oakville.

Therapeutic Paws of Canada is one of many organizations that use dogs for medical therapy.

“Studies have shown petting and cuddling dogs release feel good hormones,” said Dr. Irene Neri-Arboleda, practice manager and associate veterinarian at Thomas Glen Erin Animal Hospital in Mississauga.

Neri-Arboleda runs the practice with her husband Dr. Nilo Arboleda.

Therapeutic Paws have developed “puppy rooms’ with post secondary institutions to relieve stress for students.

Sheridan College is one of the many schools that is discussing adopting puppy rooms, an environment in which students can relieve stress by playing with puppies.

Medical practitioners have begun doing similar work with dogs in patient care.

“It’s becoming more and more of a practice where dogs go to hospitals,” said Neri-Arboleda.

Her husband recounted a story about a girl who was in a car accident.

The girl’s dog was brought into the hospital to comfort her and aid recovery.

The doctors and nurses commented that the dog’s presence eased the usually high-stress environment.

Little children can also benefit from interaction with dogs.

Van Willegen is developing a program in Oakville to help young struggling readers interact with dogs.

“Testimonials say children relax when they read to dogs,” said Van Willegen.

There’s less pressure reading to a dog.

They just sit and listen.

“One of the mothers came up to me and said, ‘My son improves leaps and bounds with his reading.’ ” said Van Willegen.

Dogs are simply unconditional lovers.

“They continuously show affection without wanting anything in return,” said Nilo Arboleda

“They’ve been bred and modified through the years to adapt to our expectations.”

Using dogs for therapy work is only going to become more popular.

Van Willegen emphasizes that with our aging population, dogs are going to be used more and more to assist in the treatment of the sick and elderly.

Arboleda believes that with face-to-face interaction declining due to social media, some might desire a dog to get their social stimuli.