My daughter and wife just left for Therapy Dog International testing. Therapy dogs, for those not familiar, are the dogs that visit hospitals or have served in disasters to provide companionship and support to people in times of need. I know our hospital has such a program. It is remarkable the changes in people when they can pet a friendly dog while in the hospital: it's as if their ailments melt away, if for a moment.
There's only one problem, though. Our cocker spaniel is blind in her right eye (congenital cataract). While she is fantastic around humans, if a dog approaches her from the right ride it might startle her causing her to go into a limbic storm. If this happens, she'll be disqualified on the basis of failing Test #8.
I hope she gets to wear one of these cool scarfs...
References: Using a therapy dog to alleviate agitation and desocialization of people with Alzheimer's disease. J PsychoSoc Nurs Ment Health Serv 1999 Apr; 37(4):16-22.
The Effects of Animal-Assisted Therapy on Anxiety Ratings of Hospitalized Psychiatric Patients. Psychiatr Serv June 1998; 49: 797-801.
Reduction of Aniety by Petting Animals in a Controlled Laboratory Experiment. Anxiety, Stress & Coping, Dec 2003; 16(4): 387-395.
05:00 11 Jun 2007 Addendum: Remarkably, she passed her test. She never saw the other dog they placed to her right. Sometimes there's a benefit to having a limited visual field. :)