Mackenzie is a Havanese trained to become a therapy dog and pet partner. Mackenzie visits the patients of the New York Presbyterian Hospital once a week with his friend Lynn, with whom he lives. He is a member of the Hospital's Paws for Patients Program, designed to bring the healing power of dogs to patients, their families, and staff. Therapy dogs deliver proven benefits to patients in different units such us oncology, cardiology, physical rehabilitation, pediatrics, psychiatry, and neurology. Programs like Paw of Patients are spreading all over the world, increasing the number of dog owners interested in training their puppies to become therapy dogs.
Numerous organizations work to improve the quality of life of dogs, help people learn how they and their pet can become volunteer pet partners, and make the world a better place.
Pet Partners, formerly known as Delta Society, is one of them. This international not-for-profit organization’s main goal is to improve people’s health with the incorporation of therapy, service and companion animals into their lives. This organization trains, registers and screens volunteers and potential therapy animals so they can visit patients in different health or community centers. Pet Partners also focuses on providing information on both service dogs and the health benefitsof interacting with animals to people with disabilities and their families. Pet Partners bases its actions on the proven fact that patients feel less stressed, anxious and depressed when animals are around due to a decrease in their blood pressure and tend to be more friendly.
For volunteer information and training options: http://www.deltasociety.org/page.aspx?pid=261
For people considering obtaining a service dog there are one dog trainer directory: http://petpartners.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=452
For supporting Pet Partners: http://www.deltasociety.org/page.aspx?pid=331