Dogs on Parade - Paws with a Purpose

Volunteers with Paws With A Cause held a dog parade to lift residents’ spirits at an assisted living facility. The focus of the event was to connect the residents of the assisted living facility with the animals despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Institute of Health talks about the Health Benefits of Human-Animal Interactions in their article, The Power of Pets. Research on human-animal interactions is still relatively new. Some studies have shown positive health effects, but the results have been mixed. Interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Other studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood.

“Dogs are very present. If someone is struggling with something, they know how to sit there and be loving,” says Dr. Ann Berger, a physician and researcher at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. While people with pets often experience the greatest health benefits, a pet doesn’t necessarily have to be a dog or a cat. Even watching fish in an aquarium can help reduce muscle tension and lower pulse rate.

Pets have also been shown to help adults with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Research at the University of California at Davis concluded that Alzheimer’s patients suffer less stress and have fewer anxious outbursts if there is a dog or cat in the home.

Some studies have found that just a few minutes a day petting or visiting with an animal lowers the stress hormone of cortisol and increases the feel-good hormone of serotonin. The results can range from lowered heart rates and blood pressure to decreased depression. Cleveland Clinic talks about the healing power of pets.

Certain organizations exist to provide the healing power of pets onsite or at community events. Paws for People services mostly Delaware, but also serves areas in southern Pennsylvania, northeast Maryland, and southern New Jersey. Thousands of facilities have opened their doors to Pet Partners therapy animal teams. There are many other organizations who provide similar services. These are just a couple of examples.

Throughout COVID, there have been a number of stories about dog parades helping to celebrate birthdays and to help spread smiles and joy. Halloween dog parades are apparently a big thing, too. The Tompkins Park Halloween Dog Parade in New York celebrated its 30th year of dressing up pups this year online, with only a few live moments from secret locations where dog owners came with their dressed up pups.

Several Kendal communities have hosted their own internal dog parades to help lift spirits. But even if you can’t host a parade in person, all you have to do is Google “dog parade videos” and you’ll find a plethora of videos to watch.

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