HealthLinks Charleston May/June 2022

90 | www. Char l es tonPhys i c i ans . com | www.Hea l thL i nksChar l es ton . com “When the therapy dogs come in, they forget about all the problems, stress and issues they have and concentrate on the dogs,” Anderson said. “The afternoon after we come, all the patients are in a better mood.” Anderson was motivated to form her organization after realizing that she wanted to share her love of dogs with others. She also knew the significant impact that therapy dogs could have on those struggling with medical conditions ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to illnesses such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. “I was walking with my dogs and got on my knees and asked the Lord to help me give back what I have using my dogs,” Anderson recalled. “Since then, I have cried so many times on the way home from how the dogs have touched someone we visited.” According to Anderson, a therapy dog is especially helpful for veterans who are dealing with PTSD, anxiety and depression. The animals are trained to help people relax and stay calm. They also have a special way of helping the person feel safe when they have a panic attack or other emotional episode. While Anderson’s group primarily provides services in the Upstate of South Carolina, there are several similar organizations in other areas of the state. The Service Dog Institute is based in Greenville and provides service dogs to all of South Carolina, while Canine Companions places dogs throughout the entire United States. Additionally, more than one-third of dogs released from service dog training through Canine Companions have gone on to serve as therapy dogs. For Danzer, the opportunity to obtain her service dog has drastically enhanced her quality of life. “I think of Pine as my best friend,” she said. “He’s always with me 24/7, and just knowing he’s there gives me the sense that I’m never alone.” Photo courtesy of Paws 2 Care. Photo courtesy of Paws 2 Care. Photo courtesy of Paws 2 Care. Photo courtesy of Paws 2 Care.