Four-legged friends help with rehab

April 30, 2008 11:01:54 AM PDT
Spike, Gus and Sam- along with their owners- make up the Canine Therapy Corp. On Tuesday, they visited patients at the Schwab Rehabilitation Facility.

"I think it's a beautiful thing, a wonderful thing," said Vivian Walker. "It makes me feel good to be able to interact with the dogs."

"At first I was a little skeptical," said Dan Jarvis, Sam's owner. "Right after the beginning, I understood that it really works. (It's) really helping people."

Founded 17 years ago, the Canine Corps uses volunteer dogs and their owners to assist in healing. Karen Hill is a therapist.

"I've had patients where they have problems with high blood pressure. If it's taken after the group, it's lower. If it's increased anxiety, they just relax, smile and have a good time. It helps everything over all," said Hill.

The more than 60 volunteers who make up Canine Therapy Corps donate thousands of hours.

Each week members of the Corps visit 10 Chicago hospitals, rehab centers and schools where they spend an hour or more interacting with the patients.

"When patients walk in they are kind of scared of him because he's a big dog. Once they get to know him they fall in love with Spike," said Nadia Dedricky.

As member of the corps, a dog has to be obedient reliable and well mannered.

"This helps me with my therapy, you know it makes me feel good. He does what I tell him to do. It keeps me focused because I'm going home in couple of days," said Reco Rushing, patient.

"I have always wanted to do something with my dog that benefited people in this situation, (would) bring them a wonderful joyful experience," said Sarah Stewart, owner of Gus.

To learn more about the Canine Therapy Corps, visit CanineTherapyCorps.org


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