Posted 7:21 AM 3/20/2013 : Dogs prove to be more than man's best friend
Dogs may be good at more than fetching sticks and greeting you after a long day of work. As it turns out-- simply having them around improves your health.
He's one of the most dedicated volunteers at Memorial Hospital. Week after week. Patient after Patient. 5 year old Lani makes his rounds.
His job is really quite simple.
"For them, it brings a little bit of home to the hospital. We get a lot of stories of 'this is what my dog is like' and 'this is what my cat is like,'" says Sandy Miller, Lani's trainer.
The benefits of therapy dogs were first recognized in army hospitals during World War II. The dogs are now seen around the world as a vital part of the healing process. Studies show that being around dogs can help lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health and can even help get patients out of the hospital sooner.
Like Lani, pups have to go through a fair amount of training to gain certification. But the effort is well worth it for both the patients and the staff.
"I think he has a calming effect, that's the number one thing. People seem to calm down when he's around or when a dog is around."
Making friends is what Lani does best, but he's also a trained therapy dog and knows when to buckle up and get to work. With a special balance harness, he's able to help patients during their physical therapy.
"If I needed to get off the ground, I can brace, I can tell him to brace and he won't move and then I can get up."
But on this particular day, as we followed Lani around the hospital, it seemed the only therapy these patients needed was a heavy dose of love, laughter and a break from the everyday stresses of life.