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Therapy dogs help seniors, children
by Garrett Valenzuela - gvalenzuela@dailysparkstribune.com
Jun 05, 2012 | 2339 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/John Byrne - Sue Bemus and her dog Riley pose for a photo at the Walk for Animals on Saturday next to the Paws 4 Love tent. Sue and Riley are members of the dog therapy organization that visits hospitals and libraries helping seniors and children with loneliness and stress.
Tribune/John Byrne - Sue Bemus and her dog Riley pose for a photo at the Walk for Animals on Saturday next to the Paws 4 Love tent. Sue and Riley are members of the dog therapy organization that visits hospitals and libraries helping seniors and children with loneliness and stress.
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RENO — For 10 years, Tammy Buzick and her dog Dozer have done community service. They do not clean the sidewalks or volunteer at the animal shelter; instead they bring companionship, a furry coat and a smile to hospitals, libraries and assisted-living homes.

Therapy dogs have been scientifically proven to help reduce stress, blood pressure and loneliness — and Dozer is no exception. Buzick has watched him bring laughter and joy to veterans, seniors and children while working with Paws 4 Love, a non-profit therapy dog organization.

“It’s amazing to see an Alzheimer’s patient recall all kinds of stories when they get around a dog. They can go on forever it seems,” Buzick said. She and several other volunteers with Paws 4 Love have seen the benefits of bringing their therapy dogs into hospitals, providing a distraction to families in waiting rooms who would otherwise be restless waiting for updates on their loved ones.

“We would visit the geriatric and psychiatric ward of the hospital and the nurses would always be grateful to pet or talk to them,” she said. “Everywhere we go we get to make people happy.”

Though Paws 4 Love traditionally has spent years easing the minds of seniors in assisted-living homes, the organization has begun to focus its attention toward children, visiting the Spanish Springs Library in Sparks to help improve children’s reading skills through their literacy program Paws 2 Read.

“Some children hate to read aloud. When they struggle with reading it is embarrassing for them to read aloud, but the dogs don’t judge them,” Buzick said. “(Dozer) loves being read to and the kids seem to enjoy it as well.”

Currently Paws 4 Love is comprised of about 100 members whose personal dogs are well trained to be calm, affectionate and unbothered by loud noises or sudden movements. Buzick said some owners have multiple dogs in the program and owners operate as a team when they are doing visits or readings.

In their most recent effort to raise funds for the organization, the group composed a children’s book titled, “Morph and Friendship Fort,” filled with pictures of the therapy dogs and a storyline designed to get children excited about reading to the dogs.

“This was the first time we had ever tried something like this, and I think it came out looking very nice,” Buzick said. “The best part is once the kids read the book to the dogs they get to take (the book) home with them.”

The story follows several of the therapy dogs on their quest to catch the only Paws 4 Love therapy rabbit, Morph, who tears down their stick fort. In the middle of the book, the dogs are pictured going to the library to check out a book to learn how to catch rabbits, which Buzick said is another inspirational tool they hope the children will like.

The Paws 4 Love dogs will be in attendance for story time with children at the Spanish Springs Library on Sunday and visits there on the second Sunday of each month.
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Therapy dogs help seniors, children by Garrett Valenzuela - gvalenzuela@dailysparkstribune.com


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