A wag and a smile

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A wag and a smile

Therapy dogs’ visits bring comfort, healing
Marla Stills, a patient at Southwest Oncology and the Durango Cancer Center, looks forward to visits from therapy dogs during her long chemotherapy treatments. At the end of June, Zeke, a standard schnauzer, who belongs to Gay Robson, brought a smile to Stills’ face.
Marla Stills, left, a patient at Southwest Oncology and the Durango Cancer Center, pets Zeke, a standard schnauzer therapy dog, who’s visiting with his owner, Gay Robson, right, during Stills’ chemotherapy treatment at the end of June. Dogs can comfort families as well as patients.

A wag and a smile

Marla Stills, a patient at Southwest Oncology and the Durango Cancer Center, looks forward to visits from therapy dogs during her long chemotherapy treatments. At the end of June, Zeke, a standard schnauzer, who belongs to Gay Robson, brought a smile to Stills’ face.
Marla Stills, left, a patient at Southwest Oncology and the Durango Cancer Center, pets Zeke, a standard schnauzer therapy dog, who’s visiting with his owner, Gay Robson, right, during Stills’ chemotherapy treatment at the end of June. Dogs can comfort families as well as patients.
What’s in a name?

Dogs assist humans in different ways with different kinds of training. Here are the two main categories:
Service or assistance dogs undergo a year of socialization as puppies and then eight to 10 weeks of specialized training to assist people with disabilities, including vision and hearing impairment, mental illnesses, seizures and diabetes. They are working dogs, specifically trained to care for their owners, and should not be petted or distracted without permission from the owner. Service dogs are legally protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and are allowed to go everywhere with their owners.
Therapy dogs are trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, cancer centers, nursing homes, hospices, schools, disaster areas and to those who have learning difficulties. The dogs must pass a test to be certified as responsive to commands and comfortable around medical equipment and in strange locations. They belong to volunteers who are willing to visit with people during these emotional times and generally work only a few hours a month.

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