is a group of dedicated people trying to bring
this surreal claim into reality.
can just wander about in hospitals?"
That's probably what people think while skeptically
glancing at me. You've probably been through
this trying to sneak your precious doggie
with you on a hospital visit. However, I bet
none of you have seen anyone walk a dog in
a hospital without any shame or embarrassment.
Not only do the dogs walk about as they like,
they treat patients just as doctors do. You
probably think I'm crazy or sick.
in the past, what I just said might have seemed
ridiculous or utterly unbelievable. Now, however,
in a small corner of Taiwan, there is a group
of dedicated people trying to bring this surreal
claim into reality. Their name is Taiwan Dr.
Dog and they have an organization called Formosa
Animal-Assisted Activity & Therapy Association.
meeting the group's director, Ms. Chen Shio-Yi,
I was quite startled. You don't usually find
the head of an organization to have such a
lovely figure, and to be only a few years
older than the lady whom I call¡§aunt¡¨next-door.
From the interview, her compassion for stray
dogs and life could be sensed through her
sharp and blunt attitude. Because of her passion,
she has been able to come this far down an
arduous path not traveled by many and still
keep going without complaint.
so-called ¡§Dr. Dog¡¨
program is made up of owners and their dogs,
creating teams of do-gooders. The teams begin
on Saturdays at 6 a.m. and set off to locations
according to personal convenience. Each round
of service lasts for an hour. The services
include bonding time between the dogs and
their patients, allowing the patients the
opportunity to love and care. Sometimes, under
special conditions, patients are allowed to
play catch-and-retrieve with the dogs. This
is a type of chiropractic therapy. Here, when
the dogs are the doctors, the owners become
the assistants. The owners must watch out
for both the dog and the patient and guide
the two in their interaction. This proves
to be a vital position for the owner to play.
Not all dogs are eligible to become "doctors".
A qualified dog must be healthy, kind and
have a liking for human interaction. If you
think your dog fits the qualifications, you
can apply for Dr. Dog's training sessions,
not taking into account their age and breed.
Director Chen says, ¡§Training
sessions last for 20 weeks. The sessions are
split into three levels ¡V beginner,
intermediate and advanced. The owners must
pass the exam along with their dogs in order
to become a doctor. To promote our training
program, if a dog doctor serves a minimum
of 40 hours, we will refund your training
program fees and give you the following year's
health inspection fees.¡¨
Naturally, there are many who are skeptical
as to whether or not these doggie therapists
work. Because of this, Dr. Dog has partnered
up with the National Taipei College of Nursing
for research. Results of this research indicate
that interaction between dogs and humans (of
all ages) does prove to have positive effects.
Director Chen notes that ¡§some
stray dogs are where they are because of the
lack of bonding with their owners, thus resulting
in ignorance and neglect.¡¨ For
example, when a dog licks its nose, it is
telling you that he/she is hot. If the owner
overlooks the simple gesture, the dog will
look elsewhere to find comfort. They may choose
to chew through household items or break furniture.
As a result of this, the owner will lose patience
with his/her dog and the rest is history.
Joining the training sessions is not only
a chance to genuinely help those less fortunate,
but also a chance for the owner and the dog
to understand each other.
If you are wishing to join this team to bring
love and joy to others, Dr. Dog holds training
sessions in Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung.
For those who are