Shrink’s wiener dog aids in patients’ treatment

Louie the Dachshund “dogtor” practices in California (as if you hadn’t already guessed) with his partner, Judy Welch:

Thanks to Louie, Welch has one additional tool with which to treat clients. A 9-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder who was scared of new situations became receptive to therapy once Louie helped him decrease his anxiety level, Welch said.

An adult with phobias—including a fear of dogs—was able to overcome her fears in less than three months, Welch said.

A 12-year-old girl, who Welch described as being “highly resistant to authority,” was failing in school, and when traditional therapeutic methods failed to help the child, Welch enlisted help from Louie.

“She connected with Louie and agreed to call into the office and leave a message for Louie each night when she completed her homework,” Welch said. “That was the start of some significant improvement at school.”

A physically fragile woman undergoing chemotherapy and facing life and death issues gained a new calm by having Louie sit on her lap, Welch said. “(Louie) sensed he could not move around and jostle her, so he sat perfectly still while she stroked him,” Welch said. “The soothing experience made it easier for her to open up about her fears and concerns.”

Louie, now 4 years old, is not just a good sport—he’s a licensed professional in his own right. Louie passed the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizenship test that requires dogs to be focused and wellbehaved around a variety of distractions. Therapy dog training started as soon as Louie was certified as a “canine good citizen,” Welch said. He earned the “Dogtor” moniker through the suggestion of an 8yearold patient.