For some patients, who suffer from “white coat hypertension”, a syndrome where a patient’s blood pressure measures consistently higher in a medical setting, having therapy dogs around can help. Some studies suggest as many as 20% of patients suffer from this syndrome. I certainly have at least that many patients who suffer from it. For such patients, it’s normal to re-take blood pressure readings after they’ve had a chance to sit and relax for a few minutes. With the dogs in the office, this second reading is often unnecessary.
When patients come into the office, they’re usually coming from work, or at the very least, they’ve had to drive in L.A. traffic. Being greeted by dogs allows them to shift gears, forgetting about the demands of the road or the paperwork on their desk. It’s an alternative to the traditional waiting room magazine and can even get them to unhook from cell phones and text messaging.
And the benefits are even greater for “dog people” who are interested in our girls’ stories, their breed and their history. These patients share stories of their dogs, current or past. And sometimes, with the kind of work I do in my clinic, this opens a door that might not otherwise have been opened, to allow healing to begin, or to start a dialogue.
In Our Office
Our office Nellie, a Shiloh Shepherd dog, has mostly retired. We hope to have our youngest girl, Ruby, move into Nellie’s role. In the meantime we encourage human dog interactions in every way, as well as welcoming all service dogs into our office.