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Rayna the Therapy Poodle at Tel HaShomer Hospital

At Strides to Solutions, our therapy animals bring comfort and healing to those in need. Recently, Rayna, one of our beloved therapy poodles, and I visited Tel HaShomer Hospital to bring joy to injured soldiers. This visit was not only heartwarming but also highlighted the incredible impact of animal-assisted therapy. What made this day even more special was that it took place on Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism.

The Journey Begins

As we arrived at the hospital, Rayna’s excitement was palpable. Her wagging tail and bright eyes seemed to say, "Let's make someone's day better!" Tel HaShomer Hospital, a sprawling complex known for its advanced medical care, was bustling with activity. Despite the busy environment, Rayna remained focused, ready to spread some canine cheer and healing energy.

The Power of Pawsitivity

Entering the rehabilitation wing, we were greeted by nurses and doctors who were eager to see Rayna in action. Each room we visited was filled with soldiers on their journey to recovery. The simple act of Rayna resting her head on their laps and receiving gentle pets brought a sense of calm and comfort. The presence of a therapy dog like Rayna can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and release oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding and emotional well-being.

The Healing Hormone: Oxytocin

Oxytocin, often dubbed the "love hormone," plays a crucial role in social bonding. When you pet a dog, your brain releases oxytocin, which helps foster feelings of trust and emotional connection. This hormone is not just beneficial for emotional well-being; it also has physical health benefits. Increased levels of oxytocin can lead to reduced stress and anxiety, lowered blood pressure, and even faster healing of wounds. Essentially, a few minutes of petting a dog can have a profound impact on both your mental and physical health.

Healing Hearts and Minds

We continued our rounds, visiting several soldiers, each with their own unique stories and challenges. Rayna's calm demeanor and gentle presence had an almost immediate effect, helping the soldiers to relax and engage in positive interactions. Therapy dogs like Rayna are trained to sense and respond to human emotions, providing a unique form of support that is both emotional and physical.

In many cases, patients with PTSD or severe injuries respond better to animal-assisted therapy than traditional methods alone. The presence of a therapy dog can provide comfort, reduce feelings of isolation, and even motivate patients to participate more actively in their rehabilitation. This holistic approach is invaluable in the healing process, offering a sense of normalcy and joy amidst challenging circumstances.

Reflecting on the Day

As we wrapped up our visit, I couldn't help but feel immense pride in Rayna and the work we do at Strides to Solutions. Each smile we brought to the faces of those brave soldiers was a reminder of the powerful bond between humans and animals. Rayna's ability to connect and comfort is a testament to the incredible potential of therapy animals. Our visit on Yom HaZikaron was a poignant reminder of the resilience and spirit of those who serve.

The Science Behind the Magic

Animal-assisted therapy is supported by a growing body of research. Studies have shown that interactions with therapy animals can lead to significant improvements in mental health, including reductions in anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms. The physiological benefits are also notable, with measurable decreases in heart rate and blood pressure. At Strides to Solutions, we are dedicated to harnessing this potential to improve the lives of our clients.

Our therapy animals, like Rayna, are carefully selected and trained to provide the best possible support. Whether it's visiting hospitals, working with children, or supporting adults with mental health challenges, our mission is to bring transformation through the power of animals. The science behind animal-assisted therapy continues to validate the profound effects these animals have on human health and happiness.


Our visit to Tel HaShomer Hospital on Yom HaZikaron was a powerful reminder of the impact that therapy animals can have. Rayna's gentle presence brought joy and comfort to injured soldiers, demonstrating the unique bond between humans and animals. At Strides to Solutions, we continue to champion the use of animal-assisted therapy, believing that every wagging tail and every soft nuzzle can make a world of difference.

For those interested in learning more about our therapy programs or scheduling a visit, please contact us. We look forward to continuing our mission of healing, one paw at a time. Our work with therapy animals is not just a job; it's a passion, and every visit reaffirms our commitment to making a positive impact in people's lives.

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