Dogs, domesticated about 15,000 years ago, have served people in many ways.
Many breeds help hunters track and retrieve game. Others are working dogs, herding or pulling loads; some are guard dogs. In present times, dogs assist police in law enforcement, and carry out military duties - detecting mines and explosives. Also, dogs assist many people with disabilities.
All these services notwithstanding, companionship is the number one benefit that dogs offer people. The natural friendship and cheerfulness of dogs is well illustrated in their visits to hospitals, nursing care homes, and assisted living facilities.
Sherrie Oliver, director of the local chapter of Therapy Dogs Inc., visited an unresponsive patient in Mississippi’s Shoals Hospital with a group of dogs and their handlers. "The minute we walked in that door and the woman saw the dogs, she just started sobbing, threw herself down on the floor, hugging all the dogs,” Oliver told TimesDaily.Com."
Even without exact scientific documentation to show that animal-assisted therapy has therapeutic effects for humans, many health specialists declare its benefit. Dr. B. Eliot Cole, the Senior Care Center’s medical director told the media source: “It has a calming effect. People seem to respond to the presence of animals almost at an instinctive level.”
The medical director told the media source that blood pressure, heart rate and pulse rate drops when people engage with and touch animals.