Yes, we admit it! We’ve watched the cute YouTube videos of cheetahs raising baboons and dogs feeding kittens. But so far we’ve resisted posting warm and fuzzy animal stories. However, when we heard that the world famous Mayo Clinic has just released its first children’s book featuring “Dr. Jack,” a miniature pinscher, we just had to share.
The 9 year old pooch is Mayo’s first facility-based service dog. Escorted by his owner, Jack is part of the health care team that helps patients with physical activity, rehabilitation, and speech therapy. Mayo physicians place an order in a patient’s medical record when requesting a visit by Dr. Jack, who sees approximately eight to 10 patients per day. During his tenure at Mayo, Jack has helped more than 2,000 patients.
“In looking for ways to convey the Mayo Clinic model of care, we found a truly remarkable ambassador: a little dog named Jack,” says the book’s author Matt Dacy. “This book is the story of Mayo as told through the experience of Jack in a way that children can understand and adults and readers of all ages can appreciate.”
In the book, Dr. Jack wears an identification tag with the Mayo Clinics three shields -signifying clinical practice, education and research. When a young boy at Mayo Clinic meets Dr. Jack, he rubs his tag and the two go on an amazing tour of Mayo Clinic, including a helicopter ride on Mayo One.
“Why do we offer animal-assisted therapy? Because it works!” says Brent Bauer, M.D., Mayo Clinic Department of Complementary and Integrative Medicine. “Of course, almost every patient ‘feels’ better after a visit by a dog like Jack. But scientific studies have shown this type of therapy can reduce pain in children, improve outcomes in adults hospitalized with heart failure, and reduce medication use in elderly patients.”
Your very own Word on Health blogger witnessed the miracle of pet power several years ago when visited by friends who brought along their mute, severely autistic 8 year old son. While the adults were enjoying dinner and adult beverages we suddenly heard a noise in the hallway. To his parents utter astonishment “Pedro” was lying on the floor telling elaborate stories to my 200lb Newfoundland dog. They were the first words they’d ever heard from him.
For those who’d like to learn more, there are numerous books on pet therapy. In the meantime we’d love to hear your stories on how an animal has helped you, or someone you know, with illness.