Nova, our beloved 120-pound friend, has just turned two years old! “She is very excited to not be a tween any longer,” says her trainer, Jack. Nova has a heart of gold, is willing to share her skills and talents with anyone she meets. Her presence is calming, and you can’t help but fall in love with her the moment you meet her. She and Jack spend time at Solvay Hospice House, providing comfort to residents and families. As we celebrate Nova’s big day, we thought we’d tell you more about her work and those furry friends who are making such a difference in the world.

If you have a furry friend, you know the benefits. But did you know they have the proven ability to reduce anxiety and depression and promote relaxation just by being in your presence? In fact, the simple act of petting animals can even:

  • Act as a catalyst in the therapy process
  • Lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health
  • Help slow anxious breathing
  • Cause a hormone release that has the same effect as chocolate

Nova, a Newfoundland with a heart of gold, is willing to share her skills and talents with anyone she meets. Her presence is calming, and you can’t help but fall in love with her the moment you meet her. She and her trainer Jack spend time at Solvay Hospice House, providing comfort to residents and families.

In the Polinsky rehab facility, Kane or Jazz happily help patients regain motor control during petting, grooming or games of fetch or relearn speech through calls and commands. Sometimes, the pups are simply a motivator, encouraging patients to get better.

Those who have had the experience of a therapy dog visit know that a friendly, non-judgmental guest with a wagging tail can make all the difference in the world, and so it’s easy to see why pet therapy has become increasingly popular in a variety of settings. Miller-Dwan Foundation President, Traci Marciniak, recently attended a therapeutic cat yoga class at the Friends of Animals Humane Society in Cloquet, MN. Goat yoga is also a popular stress relief, although it hasn’t made its way to the Twin Ports, yet. And in Duluth, three therapy donkeys provide smiles as they visit with residents in nursing homes, on the Lakewalk and just about anywhere they go throughout the town.

We’ll be sure to continue to share what is happening with our canine companions. In the meantime, be sure to check out the video recap from our meet and greet with Nova and Jack here:  http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/video/NkRYkHuy