BOSTON (CBS) — Christine Macdonald knows exactly what she’s looking for when she holds classes on therapy dog techniques.
“The dogs should be calm when they enter a room and approach a bed or wheelchair,” she says.
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Macdonald is volunteer coordinator with the Pets and People Foundation, which provides people therapy through pets. She often uses her dog, a standard poodle named Mercedes, as an example, when training prospective volunteers.
“When Mercedes greets you, she doesn’t jump on you. It’s four on the floor. You can pet her and touch her and she’s very relaxed about that,” she says.
Macdonald and Mercedes make weekly visits to patients at Emerson Hospital in Concord. Alissa Valasco Carr is a care manager at Emerson Hospital. “Everybody brightens up when Mercedes comes around. The staff has really embraced the idea of having pet therapy. Sometimes it’s really moving to see how some patients get relaxed, calm, happy. People who have been kind of miserable, when Mercedes comes and visits, it lightens their load for that short period of time, so it’s really nice,” Valasco Carr says.
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