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Meet Ryder – Our Newest Member & Therapy Dog

Jeannine Crofton - Calgary Marriage Counsellor


Resolvology has added a new member to our team. Ryder is our 8-month-old Golden doodle puppy. Ryder was chosen from a litter of nine puppies and we chose him because he displayed a friendly yet calm disposition. We have been working with Ryder to socialize him and prepare him to be a working dog. Ryder has attended a ten-week training program to help him with basic training. He will attend further training closer to his first job in the therapy office.

Ryder is an excellent traveller, has a thing for socks and sweaty feet and has ingested many a sock. He already has had surgery to remove a sock that wouldn’t pass and had the pleasure of wearing a cone for a few weeks. Ryder quickly chows down on his kibble and will greet a stranger with a big tail wag whenever allowed to do so.

Therapy dogs (animal assisted dogs) have been show to help people who attend Psychotherapy to feel more comfortable and to reduce anxiety and depression (Beetz et all 2012). Animal Assisted Psychotherapy means that the working dog assists the therapist to work on the relational interaction between the therapist and the client. A therapist understands the person animal bond may be an opportunity to examine relationships in the moment. (Bachi and Paris-Platt, 2016).

Calgary Therapy Dog Ryder
Calgary Therapy Puppy Ryder
Meet Ryder the therapy dog!
Animal assisted therapy can be helpful with a variety of populations and it can help address various issues. Adults, children, couples and the elderly all have been shown to benefit from the presence of a therapy dog (Beetz et al 2012).  Presenting issues of anxiety, trauma and relational issues are area of practice that can benefit from animal assisted therapy.

How this happens is that animals can reduce the amount of oxytocin, a stress hormone, that is generated when we are feeling overwhelmed. (Barker, Pandurangi and Best, 2005). Interestingly in this particular study animal assisted therapy did not positively impact depression. That finding is not consistent among all research into the impact of therapy dogs on depression.

When introducing my services I am clear to mention that a positive relationship between the therapist and the client is one of the main contributors to a successful outcome. Wesley, Minatrea, and Watson in 2009 concluded that the therapeutic alliance between therapist and client can be enhanced by the presence of a therapy dog.

“Therapy dogs (animal assisted dogs) have been show to help people who attend Psychotherapy to feel more comfortable and to reduce anxiety and depression.”
What many people do not know is that being a therapy dog is stressful for the animal.  The work increases the amount of cortisol released by the dog. For this reason animal assisted dogs should not be working too early in their lives and when they do work they should be given breaks just like human workers get (Beetz et al 2012).

Our plan for Ryder is to socialize him by ensuring he is comfortable in many places, with many people and once he gets to be 18 months old we will slowly incorporate him into the therapy process. Clients will have an opportunity to have him in the room by request.

Jeannine's Signature
Bachi, Keren and Nancy Parish-Plass. (2016). Animal-assisted psychotherapy: A unique relational therapy for children and adolescents.

Barker, Pandurangi and Best (2003). Effects of animal-assisted therapy on patients’ anxiety, fear and depression before ECT. Vol 1: 33-44.

Beetz, Andrea and Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg, Henri Julius and Kurt Kotrshal (2012). Psychosocial and Psychological Effects of Human Animal Interactions: The Possible role of Oxytocin.

E Paul Cherniack and Ariella R. Cherniak ( 2014). The benefit of Pets and Animal-Assisted Therapy to the Health of Older Individuals. The Geriatrics Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

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