There are health benefits to your human-animal interactions! Studies suggest that pets are good for your heart and stress levels in more ways than one. Caring for an animal has shown to lower blood pressure and cortisol (stress-related hormone) levels, reduce loneliness and boost your mood.
To find out more, we arrived at University of Queensland Healthy Living headquarters in Toowong at one o’clock for an informative talk from Dr Nancy A. Pachana, clinical geropsychologist and neuropsychologist—and cupcake maker—accompanied by the team from Happy Paws Happy Hearts.
As you would have guessed, the highlight was two adorable and bouncy puppies, Timon and Rafiki, who carried out their pats-and-cuddles duty in admirable fashion. The blurry photos attest to their eagerness.
Happy Paws Happy Hearts foundation offers an Animal Basics Program, Animal Care Program and Animal Handling Program for individuals and groups. Participants learn to interact with a variety of animals waiting to be adopted from RSPCA by using well-established animal interaction methods to increase confidence in both humans and critters.
Depending on the program and availability, interaction could be with puppies, kittens, dogs, cats, wildlife and farm animals. Volunteers support attendees to reach their goals while working with these rescue animals within the shelter.
Research supports dogs and other animals assisting with physical, mental and emotional symptoms as well as supplement therapy for PTSD, anxiety and depression plus a range of psychiatric disorders. They are particularly important for older people.
Over 60% of older community-dwelling adults cited pets as a key source of emotional support, while dog therapy reduced age care residents loneliness and depression as well as improved cognitive impairment in those with dementia. The presence of animals provided avenues for active behaviour, decision-making and increased socialisation in nursing home residents.
Dr Pachana spoke about greater acknowledgement of the positive impact of animals in other contexts, such as the workplace and courtrooms. I have seen encouraging signs in classrooms where children have difficulty with peer activities or reading aloud but respond with a calm dog beside them.
Can Do Canines train shelter dogs for therapy purposes and there are organisations like Guide Dogs, Assistance Dogs, Hearing Dogs, Story Dogs, and of course Happy Paws Happy Hearts doing a wonderful job.
We enjoyed our sociable and informative visit and send a special woof to Timon and Rafiki for being good boys.
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
RSPCA, Wacol https://www.rspcaqld.org.au/
Happy Paws Happy Hearts, Wacol https://hphhfoundation.org/
University of Queensland, Toowong https://habs.uq.edu.au/uqhealthyliving