Skip to main content

Animal therapy dates back to the 1700s. 

The healing power of animals has stood the test of time and now in 2017, animal therapy has become an established trend. 

Animal therapy was first recorded in 1792 at York Retreat in England. The retreat was put on by the Society of Friends and used animals to help treat people with mental illnesses. 

During the early 1930s, Sigmund Freud, best known as “the father of psychoanalysis,” became a proponent of Animal Assisted Therapy when he began using his favourite dog, Jofi, during his psychotherapy sessions.

 Several other animal therapy sessions are recorded after this, but possibly one of the better-known therapy dogs was a tiny Yorkshire terrier called “Smoky”.  Smoky visited her wounded master, Cpl William Wynne at a military hospital in the Philippines in the aftermath of World War II.  Medical staff noticed that Smoky’s presence boosted the energy and lifted the spirits of the other wounded soldiers as well as corporal.  Smoky went on to be nicknamed “The Yorkie Doodle Dandy” and accompanied Dr Charles Mayo, the founder of the renown Mayo Clinic, on his rounds through the hospital.



Dogs are now trained to help the blind, the deaf and physically disabled.  Dogs can detect when someone is about to have an epileptic fit, they can alert you to a problem with another family member, they sense when their owners are unwell and will stay by your side and “care” for you.  A Japanese study has shown that dog owners visit doctors 30% less often than non-dog owners.

Research has shown results where a purring cat can help the body in several ways – the purring is medically therapeutic, and it can help lower stress and blood pressure.  Purring can ease suffering and anxiety, alleviate depression, loneliness and low morale.  The purring vibration has also been found to help infections and swellings. 

Living a longer life could be as simple as fostering a furry friend.  It has been medically proven that an older person’s quality of life improves remarkably when they take on the responsibility of caring for a cat or dog.  See YEI’s article “Fostering a furry friend”. 

And so, it was with great pleasure that You’ve Earned It learnt of the following two organisations in the Western Cape and Gauteng who can simultaneously assist seniors and pets in different ways.  



Frosty Face Foster Programme

Cape Dachshund Rescue (CDR) is an organization which fosters dachshunds before they are adopted into their forever homes. There is a network of foster mothers and fathers who take the dogs into their homes and treat them like their own. Often the dogs have been neglected, traumatised or in ill health and no expense is spared to restore them.  We have a number of elderly dogs looking for homes and we are hoping to place them with over 60 humans. It would not be an adoption but a long-term foster as we know that life happens i.e. death, illness, moving into smaller or retirement homes. CDR will pay all medical expenses for the dog and will take the dog back if the need arises. This programme benefits both dog and human because it has been proven that let ownership improves quality of life.

Save the date:

CDR is busy organising a Mini Mutt Strutt which is a dog show and Adoption Day.  This takes place on 4 November at Lilly’s Boutique Hotel for Small Dogs, 33 Anderson Road South, Joostenbergvlakte (just off the N1).  Prospective new parents can meet the dogs available for fostering/adoption. 

For more information, or to apply to be a Frosty Face Foster parent, please contact:
Contact number:  083 350 3712
Email address:


Image, courtesy of Herald Live


Top Dogs

Top Dogs is a registered NPO and PBO organization in Gauteng which recognizes the healing powers of animals.  The Top Dogs motto is – TOP Dogs spread smiles for miles – this is being achieved, on a regular basis, with visits from their friendly non-threatening dogs, to many local venues, such as hospitals, hospices, frail care homes, and retirement homes where they bring company, support, comfort and focus to those they meet.  

The Top Dogs President, Angie Thornton said: In the early days Winston and I were visiting an Alzheimer’s Facility. We walked into a room; where there was a patient was restrained in bed for his own safety. As we walked in he said “ooooh dogs”. We didn’t think anything of this until a member of staff, who just happened to be putting something into a cupboard at the time, said – “that’s amazing” – of course we didn’t know what she meant, until she went on to tell us, they were the first the words the patient had uttered in over 6 months. Maybe only a small break through, but it’s something we’ve noticed time and time again, that the dogs somehow connect with dementia patients in a way we can’t. Sometimes it’s just a glimmer of recognition in their eye, or a smile on their face, or a hand reaching out to touch the dog. Other times it goes much further……”

If you would like to become a Top Dogs handler and part of a dog team, please see:
Top Dogs Website:


If this article was beneficial, then consider reading:

Fostering a furry friend – click here

Do dogs get doggie-dementia?  Click here

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.