Pals For Life brings cuddly pets to the residents of nursing homes, memory-car facilities, mental health centers, hospitals, group homes, and disability day programs. Interacting with our therapy animals provides the following benefits:
- Encourages physical mobility. Pals For Life pets will often visit patients who are having challenges with physical therapy or have limited desire to exercise their muscles. The pets provide a fun and motivating reason to use their muscles through holding, petting and playing with the animals.
- Provides sensory stimulation. Many of the residents we visit have vision loss, hearing loss and other sensory losses, which makes interacting with the soft fur of animal a powerful and pleasurable benefit. So many times they break into a smile as they feel something pleasurable for the first time in months.
- Improves memory clarity. Interacting with Pals For Life pets will often trigger memories of the residents’ own beloved pets. Recalling these memories can be a great exercise for the brain. An enjoyable aspect for our human volunteers is to hear the hilarious stories these residents tell of their own pet’s antics from years past.
- Increases opportunities for socialization and fun. Residents often emerge from their bedrooms for the first time in weeks when they hear that animals are visiting. Before you know it they are telling everyone about the pets they used to have, and making new friends. At a mental health facility, a patient looked up from petting the rabbit and exclaimed, “I just realized that I haven’t been thinking about my problems these last 10 minutes. I know it won’t last, but it was nice to have a break.”
- Provide comfort. Hugging a dog provides comfort like little else can. Our animals have comforted teenagers dealing with eating disorders, children dealing with difficult family situations, and isolated individuals struggling with loneliness.
Pet Visits can take place in either a group setting, or visiting individual residents in their bedrooms. All visits are one hour in length. For the patients and residents we visit, it makes their day to experience the wagging tails, enthusiastic greetings and amusing antics of their furry visitors.
Pals For Life brings appropriate therapy animals to schools and educational centers to teach proper pet care and interaction. Our education program provides the following benefits:
- Teach children how to care for their animals – how to train them, how to take care of them, and what their pet is trying to tell them. Teachers will also tie in the lessons they learned with their own lives as well. For example, when discussing how an animal communicates non-verbally, the children are able to think about how they also communicate with their own body language and how to read another person’s body language, an important life skill.
- Stress the importance of having a calm body and calm voice around animals. Pals For Life will work with children on the autism spectrum and other special needs who often have challenges with self control, both verbally and physically. Using the animals as incentive and reward for maintaining a calm body and calm voice, the children are able to practice their self-control, and are rewarded with a cuddle from a snuggly dog. Teachers are often amazed at the difference in behavior of their students when the animals are around.
- Teach about animal-related careers and other ways animals help their community. Pals For Life raises awareness about service animals, therapy animals and seizure-alert dogs. In addition the children learn about careers to explore if they are interested in animals. A child recently told a Pals For Life volunteer, “My dog makes me feel happy all the time. When I get bigger, maybe I could take him to hospitals to make other people happy, just like you!”
Pals For Life Education Visits can take place at schools, libraries, daycare, day camps, summer programs, and educational centers. All visits are one hour. Pals For Life pets look forward to interacting with these young superstars.
Pals For Life brings appropriate therapy animals to schools and libraries for our literacy program. Children of any reading level are invited to read to animals, and get some snuggling from the animals while they're at it. This program provides the following benefits:
- A non-judgemental audience for the children to practice their reading skills. Many children struggle from a lack of confidence and feel pressure when they read aloud. But reading to an adorable dog changes all that. The animals don’t judge their reading ability and the children’s confidence soars.
- Provides an enjoyable experience that the children will associate with reading. Spending time with the animals and petting them provides fun and excitement for them, and they often forget to be worried about reading aloud because they are having so much fun with the animals. Reading becomes a fun and positive activity.
- Makes children want to practice reading at home to their own pets. A parent recently told us that she walked into her living room to find her son reading to their Golden Retriever. She couldn’t believe it, because he is a reluctant reader. But it all started after he had attended a Pals For Life Read to Pet Pals program.
The Read to Pet Pals Program can take place at schools, libraries, churches or any place that wants to encourage childhood literacy. The program benefits children of all reading abilities. Children are divided into small groups for more intimate reading and interaction with the pets, and are rotated so that they get a chance to read to a variety of animals. Time is set aside at the end of each literacy program for general fun and interaction with the animals as well. All visits are one hour. Pals For Life pets make the best listeners!!
Our Pals For Life therapy animals are fans of higher education too. Pals For Life therapy animals will visit college campuses to provide cuddle time during their stressful final exam and mid-terms week, or any time during the semester. Spending time with our therapy animals provides the following benefits:
- Helps to relieve stress and promotes relaxation. During exams, taking a break from studying and the hectic pace of college life to spend some time petting an animal can sooth anxious nerves and lower blood pressure.
- Provides comfort. Many students are dealing with homesickness as well as stress from school and upcoming life transitions. “I miss my dog soooooo much!!! I needed this so bad!” squealed a college student recently, as she went barreling towards a dog for a big hug.
- Provides fun. Many of the colleges we visit report that students have told them the Pals For Life visit is their favorite event and they look forward to it all school year.
The College Program can take place at any college or university, and can take place inside or outside, weather permitting. The program can take place for one or two hours. Pals For life pets enjoy hanging out with the future of America.