Benefits of pet therapy to be discussed Aug. 5

August 4, 2015 | Events, UToday, Dana Cancer Center, UTMC
By Brandi Barhite

When it comes to comfort and recovery, sometimes a furry face can be a helpful complement to cancer treatments.

Porshia, the therapy dog, relaxed in the Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center before she visited patients.

Porshia, the therapy dog, relaxed in the Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center before she visited patients.

Jane Ann Zeigler-Wentz and her therapy dog, Porshia, will present a free, public program about the benefits of pet therapy Wednesday, Aug. 5, at 6 p.m. at the Eleanor N. Dana Center at The University of Toledo Medical Center.

Among her many clients, Porshia, a multigeneration Australian Labradoodle certified through Therapy Dogs International, is a therapy dog for UTMC. She visits the Dana Cancer Center every Wednesday, along with fulfilling special requests.

“Dogs lift everyone’s spirits and mood,” said Zeigler-Wentz, who said she would have benefited from pet therapy during her second bout of cancer. “If we can bring a little light into the darkness, that is a successful day for us.”

The benefits of pet visits include reduced stress, anxiety and loneliness, as well as motivation to participate in one’s therapy, according to Zeigler-Wentz. Therapy pets give patients a welcome distraction from illness, symptoms and worry, she said, in addition to giving them something to talk about other than their cancer treatment that day. Several patients even show photos of their pets and talk about the unbelievable unconditional love their pets give them.

“This breed of dog has great intuition. They are working dogs. They really want to serve,” Zeigler-Wentz said. “Porshia doesn’t attach to someone. She is able to go from room to room without getting distracted by hugs and kisses. She intuitively knows who needs her TLC.”

Jan Tipton, manager of the Infusion Center, said the pet therapy program Aug. 5 is part of a larger project to encourage patients to talk about their pets. UTMC staff and patients are submitting photos of their pets that will be displayed at the Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center.

“The pictures coming in are adorable,” Tipton said. “You see a lot of smiles and excitement. We are connecting with patients in a different way.”

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