Has it ever happened in your life that an animal has provided you immense emotional comfort when you needed it the most? Have you ever felt sad, and your furry friend was there to lick your tears and cuddle?

A lot of pet parents must have experienced this. Doesn’t it feel just therapeutic?

When you touch an animal, your body releases serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin which are all hormones that play a part in making us feel relaxed and happier.

In fact, It is a form of therapy and is known as “Animal-Assisted Therapy” which includes animals called ‘therapy animals’ in the treatment process. Patients diagnosed with a range of issues, such as depression, bipolar disorder, autism, ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and Alzheimer’s disease, benefit from their interaction with therapy dogs and other companion animals

Therapy dogs are trained to provide comfort, affection, and unconditional love to children with special needs, patients, and the elderly. Therapy dogs can make regular visits to hospitals, rescue centers, rehabilitation centers, orphanages, old-age homes and sometimes perform by simply sitting by the person’s side patiently being petted.

Can all dogs be therapy dogs? Even a rescued indie?
• Yes, even a rescued Indie can be a therapy dog if he is socialized well. Therapy dogs need to go through a series of temperament testing and training and graduate to become qualified co-therapists.
• In some cases, a rescued Indie themselves has suffered a lot and might be dealing with fear-based anxiety. Once he is provided sufficient help and care and has slowly learned to be confident around other people, he could be trained and socialized then.
• Some therapy dogs may have disabilities of their own, which not only helps them connect better with the person in need but also helps serve as an inspiration to humans with disabilities
• Just like how the patients at old-age homes or orphanage houses have been abandoned, indies could understand their feelings as Indie dogs have been through a lot of suffering themselves, they understand the need of being loved and saved. That is why they turn out to be the best therapy dogs.

There are many rescued indies currently working as therapy dogs like Charlie and Stumpy from the organization CARE (Charlie’s Animal Rescue Centre) based in Bangalore, or Lucky who is a 9-year-old rescued indie from the Animal Angels Foundation. If you have adopted a dog, you too can pave the way for them to have a
purpose in their lives by becoming therapy dogs at various set-ups like schools or special care centres.