The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - 71

H O W " D R . D O G " H E L P S PAT I E N T S

the volunteer dog team. Researchers monitored patients'
hemodynamics, the collective system of measurement
for blood volume, heart function and resistance of the
blood vessels. They measured hemodynamic pressures
just before the 12-minute intervention, eight minutes
into the visit and four minutes after. Investigators also
measured epinephrine and nonepinephrine levels at
these three time points and administered an anxiety
test before and after the visit.
Investigators found that anxiety levels dropped 24%
for participants receiving a visit from the dog team.
Scores for the human volunteer only group dropped 10%
and an at-rest group's score did not change.
Dogs were found to be a great comfort, making
people feel happier, calmer and more loved, a significant
factor when you are scared or not feeling well.
According to a story in National Geographic
magazine (2012), these professional comforters brought
solace to survivors of the Newtown massacre and other
tragedies. Tim Hetzner, leader of the Lutheran Church
Charities K9 Comfort Team, spent days visiting schools,
churches, activity centers and homes in the community.
They only went where they were invited and were careful
to let people approach the dogs instead of vice versa, in
case anyone was allergic to or afraid of animals.

The response to the dogs was overwhelmingly
positive, their handlers said. A lot of times, the kids
talked directly to the dogs. They served as counselors
with fur, with excellent listening skills and demonstrated
unconditional love.
Simply petting a dog decreases the level of stress
hormones that regulate breathing lower the blood
pressure, and releases oxytocin, a hormone related to
bonding and affection both in dogs and humans.
Holly Adams, a Smith Mountain Lake resident, owns
Mr. Milton, age seven, an amiable mixed-breed canine
that is certified through a National Capitol Therapy
Dog class. He not only shares his affection, soft fur and
wet nose with hospitalized persons, but helps children
learn to read in area schools' Read To Me programs.
Animals enrolled in the class must pass rigorous canine
good citizenship requirements and the ability to heed
direction and instructions from the handler, according
to Adams.
"He has a very relaxed personality," Adams says. "In
schools, you need a really calm dog. It's amazing how a
dog makes people relax. A shy kid will lay on the floor
and pet him. Within a short time, they want to read
more, and really open up to me. He's a super calming
influence." I

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The Roanoker - March/April 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - March/April 2020

The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - Intro
The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - Cover1
The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - Cover2
The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - 3
The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - 4
The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - 5
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The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - Cover3
The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - Cover4
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