As a PADS Accredited Facility Dog (AFD) dog, Rowan’s job is unique and invaluable. Together, Rowan and I work directly with clients of all ages and with various disabilities using Animal Assisted Therapy.  As a registered nurse, I will plan out the interactions between Rowan and each client we work with to meet their specific therapy goals.

Sometimes that means Rowan will give them the motivation to go for walk when walking (or using stairs) is a task that is seen as difficult or scary for the client.  Sometimes it involves working with clients as they learn or re-learn to use their hands or legs after a serious accident or chronic condition.  Rowan and I bring special tools like squeeze balls that have cookie bits in them. She will gently nudge the clients hands as they work hard to release those cookies which helps improve their fine motor dexterity.  People will try so much harder to get out those cookies for Rowan, than if they were squeezing a ball in normal therapy.  When a client has to work on hand-eye coordination and balance, Rowan will play ball- hockey with them, and not only is it a physical game that uses gross motor skills, the clients will learn Rowan’s retrieve commands and they will get her to get the ball and bring it back to them which helps improve cognitive and memory function.  If a client needs to work on strengthening their voice, we well get them to read out loud to Rowan.

Rowan-with-a-clientClients think it’s all fun and games, but Rowan and I have an agenda.  I will document the interactions just like any other kind of therapy.  We also meet with the other healthcare professionals, family members or care givers of the client to make sure the goals we are aiming towards are being met or are still relavant.  It’s a creative job and one that is very rewarding in so many ways!  Rowan’s greatest gift is the ability to inspire her patients – she loves to go to work, and after a session both of us smile all the way home!


– Lisa Markin and Rowan