from "What Do Dogs Know?":
do many things to help people. One of their most unusual
functions involves assisting in psychotherapy.
This all started with Sigmund
Freud, who had a series of dogs, most of them chow-chows.
Freud felt that dogs had a special sense that allows them
to judge a person's character accurately. For this reason
his favorite chow-chow, Jo-Fi, attended all of his therapy
sessions; Freud admitted that he often depended upon Jo-Fi
for an assessment of the patient's mental state. He also
felt that the presence of the dog seemed to have a calming
influence on all patients, particularly children.
More recent studies have shown
that Freud was correct. Physiological measures show that
petting a calm and friendly dog actually reduces stress
(as shown by reduced muscle tension, more regular breathing
and a slower heart rate).There is even some evidence that
people who own dogs are likely to live longer and require
less medical attention.
Freud's dog Jo-Fi would alert
him to any stress or tension in a patient by where he
lay down during the session. He lay relatively close to
calm patients, but would stay across the room if the patient
was tense. Jo-Fi also helped the great psychoanalyst determine
when a therapy session was finished by unfailingly getting
up and moving toward the office door when the hour was
up. Freud, however, denied the rumor that Jo-Fi actually
did the therapeutic psychoanalysis and wrote up the case
© 1999 Stanley Coren.
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