Applications and Benefits

Application of AAT

AAT in Counseling: Counselors can make the use of a therapy dog while working with patients with various needs. For example, AAT is very effective for Anxiety and Distress: Several studies have identified the stroking of an animal as an effective means of relieving stress and reducing blood pressure. Depression: Pets provide the much needed emotional comfort and companionship to patients with depression. AAT is also very effective to deal with post trauma stress. The comforting touch of a therapy dog can sooth the scars of a trauma.

AAT in Hospitals: A Hospital can be a very stressful place, especially for a child. A visit from a therapy dog to a recovering patient in the post operative section will help him respond better to the medical treatment. Or a visit to a patient before undergoing surgery can help him forget his anxiety. These visits work wonder for patients who are hospitalized for long terms. Recently Animal Angels conducted a ground breaking program in India where Therapy Dog was introduced for the first time in a hospital in India at Ruby Hall Clinic for Cancer patients in Pune. A visit from our therapy dog Kiara at a Christmas party held for the Pediatric patients with Thalassemia, Cancer and heart disease, brought the much-needed fun element to the otherwise dull and painful environment of hospital setting.

Autism and other developmental disabilities: AAT has been effective in helping children with developmental disabilities. It is seen that a dog when used as a therapeutic medium can have a strong impact on the behavior of seriously withdrawn children. In a study conducted by Minal Kavishwar at Prasanna Autism Center Pune, shows that interaction with therapy dog Sophie led to decrease in autistic characteristics like humming, repetitive jumping, roaming, hand posturing etc. It also showed improvement in emotional expression and socially acceptable activities like taking the dog for a walk, joining the therapist in games involving the dog, feeding the dog, playing ball with the dog, hugging the dog etc. However, it is important to note that not the mere presence but the goal-oriented activities directed by the therapist bring out such results.

ADHD: Similarly, AAT is also effectively used for children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). The presence of an animal helps theses children in improving attention, concentration and helps in channelizing their energy. The touch of the animals is comforting and helps them to calm down and relax.

Behavioral and Emotional Problems in Children: AAT also helps in dealing with behavior problems in children. It is seen that when children with behavior problems are asked to train a dog, they learn self-control and self-correction.

Learning disabilities: Interaction with therapy dog has been seen to help children with learning disabilities. Animal Angels conducts a novel program called as ‘Tails of Joy’ – an Animal Assisted Reading program which involves the child reading out books to the dog. The presence of an animal proves to be non-threatening and helps the child overcome his fears and obstacle. The dog does not shout at the child when he makes mistakes, does not taunt or laugh at the child and thus is an ideal reading companion. Animal Angels has conducted these programs in renowned libraries like the British Council Library, Crossword Bookstores, Jungle Book library, Hippocampus library.

Geriatric patients: Individuals often experience a decreased quality of life and increased stress due to age related life transition. Visits from animals provide positive benefits for the elderly. It also enhances social interaction, verbalization and provides the much needed companionship to elders.

Physically Disabled person: AAT when clubbed along with physiotherapy can give amazing results for patients with physical disabilities. Conditions like multiple sclerosis, head injury, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy etc. can benefit by seemingly simple activities like playing with the therapy dog, stroking/grooming the therapy dog. Pre-test post-test results showed improvement in motor skills, increased physical self-efficacy and increased self-confidence can be achieved with goal oriented therapy.

Terminally ill patients: For a patient suffering for terminal illness like Cancer or AIDS, AAT is used to improve the person’s quality of life. The life of these patients and their family members is very stressful and difficult. Animal Angels is working on two projects with terminally ill patients. AAT for Cancer patients is introduced at Ruby Hall Cancer Center, Pune where therapy dog Kiara visits the patients undergoing radiation therapy. We also have a program for orphan children with AIDS at Manavya residential center where our therapy dog visits them and provides them with unconditional acceptance and love.

What are the benefits of AAT versus traditional modalities?

AAT offers numerous benefits beyond those available through traditional therapies. AAT allows a therapists to use one treatment tool – an animal, to target a variety of goals. These include, but are not limited to, improving patients’ range of motion, strength and endurance, balance and mobility and sensation. During the same session, using the animal, cognitive and perceptual deficits can be addressed. The patient also receives psychosocial benefits such as building rapport, increasing self-esteem and motivation and stress reduction. What other modality offers such a variety of benefits in such a delightful package?

Benefits of AAT

RAPPORT: Animals can open a channel of emotionally safe and easier communication between client and therapist. Children are especially likely to project their feelings and experiences onto an animal. Most importantly the presence of an animal makes you forget that you are undergoing any ‘therapy’ or ‘treatment’.

ACCEPTANCE: Animals have a way of accepting without qualification. They don’t care how a person looks or what they say. An animal’s acceptance is non-judgmental and unconditional.

MENTAL STIMULATION: In situations that are depressing or institutional, the presence of the animals serves to brighten the atmosphere, increasing amusement, laughter, and play. These positive distractions help to decrease people’s feelings of isolation or alienation. A visit by a therapy dog to a Children’s Cancer Center will immensely help the children forget about their pain.

PHYSICAL CONTACT AND TOUCH: Stroking animals decreases heart rate and blood pressure, reduces anxiety and stress levels. For some people, touch from another person is not acceptable, but the warm, furry touch of a dog or cat is. For example; cuddling or petting a dog can help a victim of sexual abuse re-establish ‘good touch’. The warm, furry touch of an animal is comforting and therapeutic.

EMPATHY: Studies report that children who live in homes in which a pet is considered a member of the family are more empathetic than children in homes without pets. Children see animals as peers. It is easier to teach children to be empathetic with an animal than with a human. With animals, what you see is what you get. Humans are not as direct. Children can be taught to read an animal’s body language. Understanding what an animal is feeling is easier than determining what a person is feeling because the animal is straightforward and lives in the moment. As children get older, their ability to empathize with animals will carry over into their experiences with people.

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Collaboration between Animal Angels Foundation and Dr. Cynthia Chandler, Center of Animal Assisted Therapy, USA

For the past three years, Mrs. Kavishwar has been conducting India’s only comprehensive course in Animal Assisted Therapy, through the Animal Angels Therapy Center, and for the past two years, thanks to a tie-up with Dr. Chandler, has made Dr. Chandler’s renowned book, “Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling”, an official part of her course as well. Now, Mrs. Minal Kavishwar and her team at the Animal Angels Foundation have been selected by Dr. Chandler to be a part of a documentary film that she is making on five prominent people working in the field of Animal Assisted Therapy across the world. This is a great honor for the entire team and especially for Mrs. Kavishwar. With her visit to India, Dr. Candler and Minal Kavishwar would be collaborating further on creating training opportunities and providing global platform for people in India to learn Animal Assisted Therapy.  Currently Dr. Chandler offers a home study program under the University of North Texas in AAT in Counseling and Mrs. Kavishwar conducts her own course in basic and advanced training in Animal Assisted Therapy in India. Mrs. Kavishwar, as a part of her collaboration with Dr. Chandler also trains students in the practical implementation of AAT in the Indian setting and provides them internship opportunities with Animal Angels Foundation.

Dr. Chandler’s Visit to India

Dr. Cynthia Kay Chandler, a renowned Counselor and AAT (Animal Assisted Therapy) practitioner from University of North Texas, US visited India last week. Animal Angels Foundation was the official host while she was visiting India.  Dr. Chandler was visiting India to film an interview with the founder of Animal Angels Foundation, Mrs. Minal Kavishwar, a pioneer in the field of Human Animal Interaction and instrumental in introducing the field of Animal Assisted Therapy in India. Dr. Chandler was visiting India to shoot an interview as a part of her ongoing documentary on AAT practitioners around the world applying AAT in various settings.  While in India, Animal Angels Foundation had organized two workshops by Dr. Chandler for mental health professionals and students along with the heads of the institutes who have implemented AAT in India. It was an open idea sharing platform with the vision of creating an opportunity for AAT practitioners from India to share their experiences with AAT practitioners from abroad. The workshop was held at on the 14th of March 2015 at Balkalyan Sanstha, Pune (India’s one and only recreational center for children with disabilities)  and on 18th of March 2015 at Academy of Learning and Development in Andheri, Mumbai (which is a school for children with  developmental disabilities and brain related injuries, run by Arti Deo and Ajinkya Deo). The workshop was attended by heads of various special schools and institutes, students of Minal Kavishwar and Dr. Chandler from Mumbi, Pune and Bangalore and various patrons of Animal Angels Foundation including India representative of Waltham Research Center UK, Mr.Umesh Kallahalli. Dr. Chandler and Mrs. Minal Kavishwar have been associated with one another for the past twelve years. Dr. Chandler has been a mentor to Mrs. Kavishwar and has been instrumental in the growth of the Animal Angels Foundation.

Animal Angels at HAI, Green Chimney, NY

Green Chimney, a residential center for children with emotional instability, set up on a farm housing various farm animals. The Green Chimney hosts a Human-Animal-Interaction(HAI) conference every year to facilitate the well-being of humans and animals in a programmatic context.  Our team from Animal Angels was the only representative from India, along with 30 other representatives from all over the world.  Attending such conferences and learning about new experiences is what makes us good and efficient with Animal Assisted Therapy(AAT).

Animal Angels represented in International Conferences

Minal Kavishwar, Founder of Animal Angels was invited to speak at the HAI workshop conducted by National Institute of Health (NIH), USA and Waltham on ‘Settings where AAT takes place – considerations and challenges. Mrs. Kavishwar was the first speaker from India to speak at the NIH and present about the work Animal Angels has been doing in India.  She said, “With so many great minds sharing and discussing the future of research and practice in AAT, it was an honour to present at the NIH and privilege to be amongst the best in the field.”

Therapy Dogs Paint the town Pink!

Our team of therapy dogs and volunteers ran the Pune Pinkathon in aid of breast cancer awareness on 16th of November, 2014. It feels great to be associated with such an important cause and it was overwhelming to see the positive response we got. We are grateful for the love and support we got from Milind Soman, Sonali Ogale and team Pinkathon for the opportunity to spread awareness about Animal Assisted Therapy in rehabilitative set-ups.  Pinkathon is a 10 kms International Run only for women. The objective of the event is to encourage women’s health and fitness. Pinkathon also aims to raise awareness about breast cancer, its causes and prevention. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths amongst women worldwide, in spite of it being one of the curable cancers if detected early.

Therapy Dogs at ‘Running Beyond Myself’

Second great year of participating in the 'Running Beyond Myself' Marathon, sponsored by Royal Canin and Union Bank of India.Our Therapy Dogs - Chiquita, Steffy, Oscar, Scotty and Hulk, along with the team, did the 3k walk and encouraged marathoners finishing their run, cheering them encouraging them and promoting the health benefits of walking with a pet. We were also the NGO partner for Pune Running.  Pune Running is a non-profit organization dedicated to health and fitness, we encourage, motivate and train people to take on running and in that, long distance – Marathon running. All this is done on a voluntary basis with no financial profit motive at all. All the programs are open to public.

AAT conducted at Schizophrenia Awareness Association

The team of Animal Angels, along with Caregivers Link conducted a session at Schizophrenia Awareness Association(SAA). Therapy dog Scotty was the star of the even and Scotty, not just brought smiles to the caregivers and care receivers but also helped them build a positive memories that they could harness during tough times. SAA tries to create public awareness and understanding about mental disorders in general and schizophrenia in particular, to inculcate confidence in and practice of self-help amongst families afflicted with mental illnesses, to provide facilities for vocational training with an aim of economic and social rehabilitation of people afflicted with mental disorders.

‘Tails of Joy’ at Pagdandi – Books Chai Cafe

'Tails of Joy'! An Animal Assisted Reading program was held for kids and adults. Participants could read out their favourite stories to our four-legged friends. Starting from 22nd August, this event was conducted every friday evening at Pagdandi - Books Chai Cafe. The event was exceptionally well received with all the participants responding ecstatically. “Tails of Joy” is our Animal Assisted Reading program to enhance literacy skills and to encourage the joys of reading through interaction with trained animals. This program intends to enrich the literacy skills of children in an effective and interesting manner. Animals are ideal reading companions because unlike peers, animals are attentive listeners; they don’t judge or criticize, so children are more comfortable and inclined to forget about their own fears. Children with low self esteem are often more willing to interact with an animal than other people. Further during such interactions, they forget their limitations. It is seen that children find reading to an animal less intimidating and transforms formerly dreaded reading events into a positive experience.

AAT at Vasant Vihar Scpecial School, Thane

The children with special needs at the Vasant Vihar Special School in Thane had Therapy dogs Goldie and Therapy dog Sunshine, visit them every week to provide them Animal Assisted Therapy. Our therapy dogs along with our therapists worked closely with the special educator in addressing issues like hyperactivity, shyness, lack of stimulation, mobility and motor issues and need for expression in these children. Therapy dogs Goldie and  Sunshine were instrumental in bringing about remarkable changes in these children in just a matter of weeks.

Summer workshop with pets

A 2-hour fun filled workshop was organised in which, participants could play, pool, fetch and long walks on a cool summer evening. This event was conducted at Petsitters, Hinjewadi Pune, twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, throughout the summer.

Our team of volunteers knows the importance of sharing the joy and companionship of their pets with those in need. They visit various institutes and settings with our Therapy Dogs with the purpose of spreading joy and bringing about smiles on people’s faces. These visits come under the category of Animal Assisted Activity, which are not goal oriented or documented. We visit places like orphanages, old age homes, pediatric Cancer Centers, nursery schools, libraries etc.

Academy of Learning and Development experiences AAT

 

Innovative ways of learning with pets were discovered at the Academy of Learning and Development when they had a unique therapist visit the children every week. Therapy dog Pepe, one of our senior therapy dog along with our team of therapists visited the children every week to provide them Animal Assisted Therapy. Her job at the center was to work with the children with various disabilities like CP, Autism, mental retardation and provide them sensory and mental stimulation. With such enthusiasm and motivation provided by Therapy Dog Pepe, the children who were hyperactive learned to calm down, the ones who had difficulty in walking too their first steps, the once who had flat affect actually smiled! The presence of Therapy dog Pepe had truly transformed their lives. (watch video here) The Academy of Learning and Development was established by Mr Ajinkya Deo and Mrs. Arti Deo  runs on is the belief that stimulating the brain with increased intensity, frequency and duration will help the child move towards achieving his or her fullest potential. They attempt to address the root cause of a disability (i.e. the brain injury) rather than the symptoms.

Animal Assisted Therapy fit in perfectly with this principle. With the therapy dog Pepe (Golden Retriever) being a package providing sensory and metal stimulation, the child gets to experience various sensations and also an opportunity to exercise his abilities.

Therapy Dog Sunshine’s first visit

  Therapy dog Sunshine, a one year old Golden Retriever and our youngest in-training therapy dog, conducted her first ever session with a special child at BalKalyan Sanstha,Pune. The child with cerebral palsy quickly bonded with Sunshine and learned to grasp a grooming brush, despite his motor issues.  Therapy dog Sunshine is a second generation therapy dog, trained and raised by team Animal Angels. She will not be working as a co-therapist with our Mumbai team.    

Internship @ Animal Angels Foundation (Symbiosys Univ, TISS Mumbai, Christ College Bangalore, University of Delhi)

Every academic year, we have interns from various Universities and colleges from across India, who visit our centers in Mumbai and Pune, to study / conduct a research, about Animal Assisted Therapy and Human Animal Bond. We have a regular flow of interns / students coming in from Christ University, Bangalore, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, Symbiosys University, Pune, SNDT University, Pune.

AAT courses and training by Minal Kavishwar in association with Dr. Cynthia Chandler, Center of Animal Assisted Therapy, University of North Texas, USA

For the past three years, Mrs. Kavishwar has been conducting India’s only comprehensive course in Animal Assisted Therapy, through the Animal Angels Therapy Center, and for the past two years, thanks to a tie-up with Dr. Chandler, has made Dr. Chandler’s renowned book, “Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling”, an official part of her course as well. Now, Mrs. Minal Kavishwar and her team at the Animal Angels Foundation have been selected by Dr. Chandler to be a part of a documentary film that she is making on five prominent people working in the field of Animal Assisted Therapy across the world. This is a great honor for the entire team and especially for Mrs. Kavishwar. With her visit to India, Dr. Candler and Minal Kavishwar would be collaborating further on creating training opportunities and providing global platform for people in India to learn Animal Assisted Therapy. Currently Dr. Chandler offers a home study program under the University of North Texas in AAT in Counseling and Mrs. Kavishwar conducts her own course in basic and advanced training in Animal Assisted Therapy in India. Mrs. Kavishwar, as a part of her collaboration with Dr. Chandler also trains students in the practical implementation of AAT in the Indian setting and provides them internship opportunities with Animal Angels Foundation.

Bravehearts Award for our therapy dogs team

Bombay Veterinary College Mumbai, hosted an event called Bravehearts, to felicitate and award prominent working dogs in Mumbai. Our team of therapy dogs Sunshine, Pepe, Coco and Goldie were felicitated by the BVC to honor the exemplary work that they do for the benefit of the society. Each therapy dog was given a medal, a memento and a goodie basket. It was a proud moment for our team and the pet parents to see our dogs being honoured. Read the blog by Goldie http://goldiecares.blogspot.in/2016/04/v-behaviorurldefaultvmlo.html?m=1

Aakash Lonkar presents at TedX platform 15 Oct 2016

It's always an honor when you get a chance to walk up on the TedXplatform and present your ideas to the world. Our Director, Mr Aakash Lonkar was invited to present at TedX Raigad where he presented, probably the first ever talk on Human Animal relationship at a TedX platform in India. Mr. Aakash presented on the importance of animals in dealing with lifestyle diseases. Sneha Lonkar and Therapy dog Pepe represented our team Animal Angels. [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AETdMK3XzL4[/embedyt]

Loksatta – Sarva Karyeshu Sarvada

    Loksatta, India’s leading Marathi newspaper, hosted an initiative, where they featured various social causes for the 10 days of the Ganesha Festival and urged their readers to donate towards these causes. Animal Angels Foundation was one of the social causes featured in their article on the 19th of September 2016. Following the article we saw a massive amount of donations and words of appreciation towards our work. We thank Loksatta and its readers for showing faith in our work and donating so generously towards our initiatives. Our representative, Mr Aakash Lonkar, was felicitated and gifted a framed copy of the article, along with the donations, by well known Marathi actor, Makarand Anajpure, at an event hosted by Loksatta. Click here to read the article in Loksatta

Comforting Angels at Mumbai International Airport!

Animal Angels Comforting Angels at Mumbai International Airport!  We at Animal Angels are happy announce our latest project with you. In a first-of-its-kind in Asia, GVK CSIA (Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai) has initiated a pilot program called “Comforting Angels”, a pet therapy program in partnership with the Pune-based Animal Angels Therapy Centre at the iconic Terminal 2 in Mumbai. These wagging “Comforting Angels” are employed to soothe, comfort and de-stress passengers inside the departure terminal.  

Animal Angels Therapy Centre, the consultation branch of Animal Angels Foundation, headed by Aakash Lonkar and Minal Kavishwar,  manages this project is proud to be associated with GVK CSIA to brings such simple joys to passengers. The program has been a success at the airport and the passengers have been extremely appreciative of this ongoing adorable experience.  

Animal Angels Comforting Angels at Mumbai International Airport!  
High stress and high anxiety are quite common for travelers. In efforts to ease that stress, airports have tried everything from gourmet coffee shops to lounges to massage rooms. But GVK Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) is trying something new.  



GVK CSIA is always making efforts to make their passengers experience at the airport seamless and comforting. Understanding that passengers bound for international travel experience anxiety, stress, loneliness sometimes coupled with exhaustion, insomnia or jet lag. Scientific studies show that petting a dog is an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. Frazzled passengers dealing with delays, missed flights, and gate changes are given the opportunity to do just that when they encounter the “Comforting Angels” patrol.  

Animal Angels Comforting Angels at Mumbai International Airport!  
The pilot project which has been initiated by the three trained Golden Retrievers; Therapy dogs Pepe, Goldie and Sunshine, at the GVK Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) mean strict business when in contact with passengers.  Dressed in jackets that say “Pet Me”, the squad approaches passengers to be petted and cuddled. It’s hard to think of an excuse to ignore this squad of four legged adorable bundle of joy.

Animal Assisted Activity at Ruby Hall Cancer center

To mark the World Cancer day which comes on the 4th of February, Animal Angels Foundation conducted an animal assisted visiting session at Ruby Hall Cancer center for children undergoing various treatments for cancer, on 9th February, 2013. Therapy dogs Kiara and Houdini interacted with the cancer patients at Ruby Hall along with the team of therapist. We got a tremendous response from the children who, for the first time had a great reason to visit the hospital with a smile.