About Caring Friends Therapy Dogs
WHO WE ARE
“Caring Friends Therapy Dogs” (CFTD) was founded as a voluntary association in January 2009. The aim of the organization is to form a network of caring individuals with their dogs, who are willing to be involved in voluntary animal assisted therapy and activities.
CFTD has recognised that the dogs can not only benefit the patients in the facilities we visit. We also place strong focus on “adopting” handlers with emotional and social problems. Especially younger people often find comfort in our caring environment and the work with dogs assists in improving their state of mind. This makes our approach to the therapy dog principal very unique and we have achieved wonderful results in this field.
Our club’s philosophy is Christian based and we boast handlers with strong ethics and high values. Commitment and a sincere love and respect for the needy members in our society are required from all our members, as we strive to bring the sincere love of our Lord Jesus into the lives of our patients and clients.
CFTD is a body corporate with its own legal identity, which is separate from its individual members. Currently, a management committee organizes and builds the organization according to its constitution, and the club is a fully registered NPO with the Department of Social Welfare and SARS. All members have to provide for their own expenses, such as transport, veterinary and health related costs, uniforms, training, etc. All qualified members are covered by our public liability insurance during official visits.
Further information about the concept, as well as CFTD’s constitution and working parameters can be supplied on request.
The biggest praise for the success of our organisation goes out to our Heavenly Father, who has blessed us in numerous ways on our road to the present. The growth of Caring Friends can only be contributed to His grace and love and we give Him all the glory!
Before we visit our patients we ask His blessing with the following Prayer:
THERAPY DOGS AND THEIR BENEFITS
Therapy Dog refers to a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, mental institutions, schools, and stressful situations such as disaster areas. A therapy dog’s primary job is to allow unfamiliar people to make physical contact with him and to enjoy that contact. Children in particular enjoy hugging animals; adults usually enjoy simply petting the dog. The dog might need to be lifted onto, or climb onto, an invalid’s lap or bed and sit or lie comfortably there. Many dogs add to the visiting experience by performing small tricks for their audiences or by playing carefully structured games.
The first documented use of animal therapy was in 1792 when an asylum incorporated animals as part of the rehabilitation of patients. In 1942 a convalescing soldier in New York requested a dog to keep him company, subsequently other patients also requested companion dogs. In 1953, psychiatrist Boris Levinson began to use his dog, Jingles, in his office during consultations.
Today, therapy dogs can be found working in a variety of residential care settings: nursing homes, hospitals, hospices, rehabilitation units, mental health facilities, special education settings, class rooms, senior citizen programs, domestic abuse shelters, children’s residential facilities, prisons, courtrooms, foster care and home health visits.
Therapy dogs are widely used to reduce loneliness, anger, stress and depression of those that interact with this type of initiative. These programs show that regular interaction with a therapy dog has significant and holistic benefits for its benefactors, especially when the dog becomes an integral part of the human habitat of a facility.
It is important to note that therapy dogs are not assistance dogs. Service dogs directly assist humans, and have a legal right to accompany their owners. Therapy dogs do not provide direct assistance, do not have legal rights to travel everywhere, and must be invited by institutions. Like most similar institutions, CFTD has rigorous requirements for therapy dogs, based on the guidelines of the Delta Society, leading therapy and service animal organization in the USA. Dogs are required to pass the equivalent of the KUSA Canine Good Citizen test, as well as aptitude tests to ensure that a dog can handle sudden loud or strange noises, can walk on assorted unfamiliar surfaces comfortably, are not frightened by people with canes, wheelchairs, or unusual styles of walking or moving, get along well with children and with the elderly, and so on.