Entries in Therapy Dog (3)


Ashley Judd Keeps a ‘Psychological Support’ Dog to Help Deal With Her Depression

Mike Coppola/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Ashley Judd, who has re-emerged in a new role with a television series on ABC called Missing, opened up about dealing with her depression, her registered “psychological support” dog named Shug at her side, and making amends with her family since the release of her explosive memoir last year.

During filming of the interview with Nightline, Judd insisted that her two dogs, including Shug, and five cats be on set. Judd said she could do the job without the animals there, but “it just adds to quality of life.”

The actress, 43, who starred in blockbuster thrillers like Kiss The Girls and Double Jeopardy over a decade ago, used to be one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood. But that all changed in 2006 after she visited her sister, country music legend Wynona Judd, at the Shades of Hope addiction treatment center in Texas. At the time, Wynona was being treated for an eating disorder, but counselors suggested Ashley should check into the center herself.

“What I said was, ‘I’m so tired of holding up all this pain, I’m so glad to come to treatment,’” she said.

As she would later write in her memoir, All That Is Bitter and Sweet, released last year, Judd was suffering from depression after a turbulent childhood of abuse and loneliness.

“God saved me from being angry and it impairs my ability to be of service to another human being,” Judd said.

After 42 days of treatment, Judd made an enormous life change and essentially retired from acting. Instead, she threw herself into charity work, where she said she found meaning in working at refugee camps and orphanages around the world. In 2010, she graduated from Harvard with a degree in public administration.

Today, Judd said she is “grateful” that she and her mother have a “precious relationship,” and that she knows her family loves her.

“I love my sister and every time she walks in the room, I light up. There’s just nothing like a big sister,” Judd said. “We’ve learned, they’ve certainly been famous a lot longer than I have, and we’ve learned that it’s really best not to dissemble our relationships in public. We do to a certain extent but the details are really none of anyone’s business.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Jersey Patients' MRI Anxiety Eased by Therapy Dog

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(RUMSON, N.J.) -- Medical tests can be daunting, especially when they require 45 minutes of complete stillness deep in an outsized, noisy magnet.

For 16-year-old Allison Ruchman of Rumson, New Jersey, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to investigate recurrent headaches provoked a level of fear and anxiety that left her desperately searching her mind for a distraction.  That's when Wally, her five-year-old beagle, saved the day.

"I guess Wally was the first thing that popped into my mind," said Allison, a junior at Rumson-Fair Haven High School.  "I started thinking about petting him, walking him, and then I wasn't fidgeting as much.  It just really helped me."

An MRI can provide detailed images of organs buried under flesh and bones as long as the subject stays still, according to Dr. Richard Ruchman, Allison's dad and a radiologist at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, New Jersey.

"MRI is really crucial now for the diagnosis of diseases, especially ones involving the brain and the spine.  The problem is, it's very motion sensitive," Ruchman said.  "When people are anxious, it's a lot harder for them to stay still.  When people calm down, we're able to get a much better test."

Based on her own experience, Allison, whose headaches have since stopped, wondered whether other people waiting to have an MRI might also benefit from Wally's calming companionship.  So the Ruchmans put their heads together to design an experiment that would suss out whether 15 minutes with the cuddly beagle, already certified as a therapy dog, could reduce MRI-related anxiety.

Based on self-reports from 34 patients who received an MRI, those who spent 15 minutes with Wally before the scan were significantly less anxious during the test than those who spent 15 minutes in a quiet waiting room.  Wally's stress-reducing influence led the Ruchmans and colleagues to conclude that pet therapy could help patients stay still for longer, which, in turn, could boost MRI image quality.

The benefits of pet therapy have previously been reported across several fields of medicine, from pediatrics to end-of-life care.  But the Ruchmans hope their study, which they will present at the American Roentgen Ray Society annual meeting this week in Chicago, will broaden the use of pets in medicine.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Dogs May Help to Reduce Pre-MRI Anxiety

Duncan Smith/Photodisc(NEW YORK) -- Individuals who tend to become anxious when getting an MRI, may want to think about spending some time with a therapy dog the next time they have to do so.

According to the findings from a study done at the Monmouth Medical Center and presented at an American Roentgen Ray Society meeting, Dogs may prove helpful in getting rid of anxiety in patients that have to undergo an MRI.

The project was conceived and researched by 15-year-old Allison Ruchman, who suffered from anxiety and claustrophobia prior to her MRI and found that her tension was relieved by creating a mental image of her dog. The theory was then tested on other patients who were allowed to interact with a therapy dog prior to doing an MRI, and the study found that therapy dogs were helpful in reducing anxiety in the patients.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio