The animal is involved in everything and does not just walk alongside the patient

In an interview, a patient (name anonymized) explains his experiences and impressions of animal-assisted therapy at the heiligenfeld center.

What role does your dog play in your daily life??

Patient: the dog represents my family to me. Since I work from home, he is my constant companion. It is very rare that my dog and I are separated. It’s important to me that he’s doing well.

How do you experience the concept of animal therapy?? What is most helpful and supportive for you??

I find the daily therapy routine very pleasant, because the animal is involved everywhere and does not just run alongside. Many thought they would come here for therapy and be allowed to bring their four-legged friend with them. This is completely different here and I think it makes a lot of sense, because the therapy is primarily for the human, but the animal is involved accordingly.

Did you have an "aha" moment about your dog during your stay??

A ha-experience in the sense that i didn’t know the topic of mindfulness with my dog before at all. I got to know the topic of mindfulness with myself earlier in the therapy in heiligenfeld. At the beginning of the animal assisted therapy it is about developing mindfulness towards the animal. "Why does the dog behave like this?", so, for example, in moments when i’m not doing so well. In therapeutic treatment, for example, i learned that my dog would sit in front of me to protect me. Earlier I might have said "now step aside" and had put him aside. Now I allow it and I am glad that he does it.

You must have noticed changes and developments in yourself during the last few weeks. Are there any changes in your dog as well??

He has become much more relaxed. Now I could say it is because he is getting old, but at eight months old he is still almost a puppy. I walk him more mindfully and as a result he walks more mindfully towards me, which was not the case before.

What do you think of the equipment in the new TBT center??

I was very surprised when I saw that there is a separate dog cake, because I did not know that. I "barf"(*) my dog, so I get the food deep-frozen sent here. I also find the dog shower very nice. It is easily accessible for the four-legged friends via a ramp. All in all, I find it here very already. A large park opposite, which allows long walks with the dog, as well as the possibility to go swimming in the river saale in summer, pleases not only the master, but also the four-legged friend .

What can you take back to your everyday life from the insights and experiences here?? What would you like to pay more attention to in the future??

To be more attentive with the animal. To learn how to handle the animal or just to give it a massage. I am very enthusiastic about the fact that I am not only undergoing psychotherapeutic therapy here, but I am also receiving highly qualified dog training. The interview was conducted by kai fraass.

(*) the abbreviation BARF stands for biologically species-appropriate raw food. It is a form of dog food where the owner prepares the food himself from raw, fresh ingredients.