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Having A Dog Can Be Therapeutic For Mental Patients


According to a research project involving three Canadian universities, there are quite a few potential benefits in matching people struggling with mental illness and addiction issues with dogs. In Saskatoon alone, three organizations have partnered up with the program, including a non-profit emergency shelter and affordable housing provider called “Lighthouse.”

James MacKay, a resident of the centre, says that he enjoys having the therapy dogs come to visit. He claims that it’s therapeutic and especially helpful to people who are yet to “come out of their shell” and talk about their problems.

Darlene Charmers, a researcher from the University of Regina says that the results have been positive so far. She thinks it’s because dogs do not judge as people do, and adds that it is extremely important for someone suffering from a mental illness to have a friend that they know will not judge them for anything they’ve done.

Charmers also says that interacting with a dog causes the release of the hormone oxytocin in our brains, which makes us feel good.

Another resident at Lighthouse, Jojo Scollo, also appreciates the help of furry friends. Most people living there have had a dog sometime in their life, Scollo claims, even those who were homeless at times. And according to Deann Mercier, director of communications at the centre, the important thing is that dogs don’t care about all that. They’re there to love and support you, no matter who you are or who you once were.

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