Like going to the dentist? Or is it like pulling teeth to get you there?
Ruby can help. The American Kennel Club-certified border terrier started “working” at Govani Dental in Oshkosh at the end of 2012, training as a therapy dog to help ease patient anxiety and make dental appointments a more positive experience.
Dr. Shaheda Govani, who owns the practice, learned about pet therapy from an Oshkosh-area friend who is a counselor and had used animals to help patients. Govani saw the potential to translate the same anxiety-reducing principles to her dentist’s office.
“I thought it was an exceptionally great idea,” Govani says. “A lot of people are anxious or may not even disclose that they’re anxious.” Having a friendly dog nearby can really help to make people feel more comfortable.
Ruby lives in the office and goes home at night with Govani, who says the 14-month-old dog seems a bit depressed over the weekend.
“She wants to interact with the patients,” Govani says.
During the week, Ruby, whose breed is hypoallergenic, stays in a penned area in the office where patients can visit with her before or after their appointment.
Canine-assisted therapy programs are relatively new at dental and medical practices, and Govani Dental is among the first in Northeast Wisconsin to offer one.
“It really makes the office a little more lighthearted, even for the staff,” Govani says.