University of Michigan Health Sciences Libraries Brings in the Dogs
Anna Ercoli Schnitzer
Health Sciences Libraries
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI
On the morning of November 4th, the staff of the Health Sciences Libraries, plus about a dozen visitors from the Health System, were treated to a demonstration by representatives from Paws with a Cause–of how a trained service dog can help a client who happens to be paralyzed or otherwise physically challenged.
Becky and her black lab Dart (short for D’Artagnan) worked together to illustrate how the dog can pick up fallen objects–some as small as a dime, pull off clothing (gloves, jacket, shoes) and even help an individual to rise from a sitting or supine position. We met another dog, a golden retriever puppy, who was being socialized by Diane, another Paws representative before being put through its training, a regimen that costs about $20,000 for each dog. Paws with a Cause pays for everything except the annual maintenance (vet’s fees, food) for the working dogs when they are placed.
We were told that there are also dogs that can tell specifically when a seizure is about to take place in a person who has epilepsy. Becky told us several heartwarming anecdotes in this context. Further, interestingly, there is now a growing need for dogs to be placed with individuals who have autism, because dogs provide comfort to these individuals and encourage them to interact.
After our session, we were asked by the head of the Science Library whether they could bring in the dogs, too. They asked to have them visit specifically at exam time, so that the students could mix and mingle with the dogs, thus reducing exam anxiety a little bit.
More photos from the event are available online: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rosefirerising/sets/72157622615361971/