Dogs Over Doctors
Contribution by Amy Caperchione
My name is Amy, I am a 24 year old brain injury patient, a passionate equalist, a self proclaimed dog mom, an advocate for trauma survivors, and a service dog handler.
The notion of ‘Dogs Over Doctors’ frames my personal journey while recovering from a traumatic brain injury. In my experience, medical professionals and the health care system in its entirety have been more catered to prescription drug distribution than patient recovery. I quickly identified that there needs to be more effective rehabilitation strategies that endorse progressive treatment and as such can improve an individual’s quality of life without a pharmaceutical reliance.
k9-assisted living has played such a major role in my own recovery that I have become so incredibly passionate and dedicated to promoting the health benefits of service dogs and therapy animals. I am campaigning to highlight the therapeutic capabilities inherent in people and animal connections, to highlight that our canine companions posses an essence of something great that can aid recoveries both big and small. At this point in 2018, It has been a year since I acquired a brain injury, and within that time I was constantly being prescribed medication that made me feel unmotivated and actually increased symptoms that were already present due to my injuries. Taking on the responsibility of training my own service dog almost immediately after my car accident allowed me to be able to better manage the disability and also directed my attention to natural means of recovery. Through my constant interactions with my service dog Iris I developed a proactive recovery that allows me to constantly feel like I am working on my rehabilitation.
Since my car accident my life has changed drastically. I had to drop out of my program at the University of Toronto after five years. I was forced to move to an unfamiliar city for treatment, and I lost the drive to communicate with my loved ones. The injuries I sustained prevented me from being able to care, cope, and tolerate. In a matter of days following the accident I became numb with disappointment. I felt like I lost myself- completely restrained by a diagnoses.
I rescued Iris 19 days after acquiring a brain injury.
Our bond was instant as if she knew why I needed her. Iris’s warm personality and eagerness to learn and please was immediately effective in elevating me from a severe depression. Already it has been more than a year of working and training together. Iris herself is a year old and is able to interrupt stress behaviours and preform medical alerts and pressure therapy.
Training my own psychiatric service dog has motivated me to engage with others facing disability-related obstacles. I believe my new life purpose is to share our story and to provide a volunteer opportunity that promotes the benefits of animal assisted therapies and a natural means of trauma rehabilitation.
Dogs Over Doctors Campaign for Therapy Visits:
Dogs Over Doctors therapy visits is a volunteer based service providing animal assisted therapies and trauma rehabilitation. Starting local with dreams of expanding, our volunteers are aiming to launch our first therapy visits this summer and fall 2018: targeting parks, post secondary schools, nursing homes, children’s hospitals, retirement homes, mental health organizations and offices all across Canada.
This program strives to establish a natural aid for volunteers, their support animals, and any participating individual. We aim to provide patrons with a therapeutic connection through remedial discussions and interactions with volunteers and their support animals. In time we hope to educate both the public and handlers on their rights and responsibilities surrounding service dog teams through the perspectives of those experiencing K9-assisted living in Canada.
This campaign hopes to reinforce the publics understanding of how beneficial an animal can really be in a person’s recovery. With each visit we advocate, educate, and inspire. Therapy visits not only benefit those at each location but also promote exposure which allows volunteers and their support animals to further develop their handling skills in social situations.
Without donation this program would not be possible and as such we are completely reliant on our supporters to fuel our movement. Your donations will provide our aspirations with a means of transportation: cost of travel, bus and driver rentals. I would like to thank in advance any and all persons who are able to assist us on our journey across Canada!
To become a donor visit: https://www.gofundme.com/dogs-over-doctors
One of the many benefits of volunteering with Dogs Over Doctors is that in doing so, we weave a support group with local service dog teams and other therapy dog pairs. Through exposure therapy and cooperation in animal-assisted therapies, volunteers receive as well as provide a therapeutic experience. Volunteers and donors alike are the foundation of this campaign. Together we maintain a universal approach to recovery!
To volunteer email: firstname.lastname@example.org