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Branch 142, Dunnville

25 June 2013 - Issue #29

“Dog, horse, cat days of summer.”  It is a well established fact that the human animal bond affects our bodies at many levels.  Taking care of an animal requires feeding, grooming, walking, playing with or interacting with the animal, which adds to daily exercise time.  Dog owners can get up to 77 per cent of the activity required for health simply by walking their pets five times a week.  Social interaction with animals increases levels of oxytocin, dubbed the ‘love hormone.’  It has been shown that dogs also produce this hormone, so it’s not much of a leap to think other animals do too, and that yes, feelings between human and beast can be mutually affectionate.

Companion animals and service animals are now pretty familiar to Canadians.  They help and support people with physical or mental challenges to go about the tasks of daily living.  Now it’s been discovered that animals can help in therapy for such conditions as post-traumatic stress disorder.  Dogs, cats, horses, llamas, even dolphins, have been used in therapy sessions.  Veterans Affairs Canada has thrown $50,000 behind research into the benefit of using animals to assist veterans dealing with post traumatic stress disorder.

St. John Ambulance whose therapy dog teams provide 180,000 hours of national service annually and Can Praxis in Alberta have been given $250,000 to further research into benefits of animal-aided therapy and have completed a pilot project employing horses to help veterans and their families cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and let’s not forget The Canadian Service Dog Foundation that assist non-military Canadians too.

There is a nice little story in Legion Magazine about a Korean War Veteran who was ordered to lead a patrol of four soldiers into no man’s land.  They were to escort a “sniffer” dog searching for random land mines in front of their position.  At the meeting place, they met a scruffy looking, indeterminate-breed dog and an engineer handler.  His orders were, if we were engaged by an enemy, to save (in this order) the dog, the handler and themselves!  That pretty much says it all about the importance of animals in war and just so you know, they all made it through!

The Canadian Government declared 2013 the Year of the Korean War Veteran.  We who were not there should feel very grateful indeed and should honour their sacrifices by attending commemorations wherever they are held.  Stay tuned for details from Branch 142.

Lynda Roberts, lynda.roberts243@gmail.com  
Public Relations Officer  
Branch 142, Dunnville