Projects Abroad Argentina opens New Canine Therapy Project
This July, Projects Abroad Argentina is set to welcome its first volunteers at the new Canine Therapy Project in Córdoba. Fundación Jingles (The Jingles Foundation) is a privately run therapy center, aimed at improving the health and well-being of its clients with the assistance of the 32 therapy dogs that live at the center.
The center was opened in 2002 by Mariana Ferrero, whose mission is to “improve the patients’ quality of life through the human-animal connection.”
Animal-assisted therapy is a relatively modern theory, but a popular one that has been growing since the early ‘90s. Being around animals naturally eases anxiety in humans and facilitates interactions. The presence of dogs has been proven to lower stress levels and increase pleasure levels and bonding hormones in people.
Located just outside of downtown Córdoba, Fundación Jingles is located on a large property with both indoor and outdoor working space. The center currently employs six therapists, trained to work in the areas of speech pathology, kinesiology, neurological rehabilitation, and psychology for individuals and families.
The foundation attends to patients of all ages seeking animal-assisted therapy for various disorders. Among them are individuals with autism, Downs’ syndrome, cerebral palsy, and epilepsy, as well as psychiatric conditions such as stress, depression, and addiction. Each patient receives treatment specific to their condition in either a group or private therapy session.
The dogs are trained from a young age depending on the kind of treatment with which they are expected to assist. "We have a permanent presence of dogs in all of the therapy activities,” states Ferrero. “You begin by establishing a tie between the patient and the dog, and then you increase the quantity and the quality of their interactions.”
Most of the dogs involved in the project are rescued from the streets and undergo special training from a young age to be able to take part in patient therapy. If a dog doesn’t demonstrate the willingness to take part in the program, then it is moved to another home. Ferrero emphasizes that all of the dogs involved in the program are there out of their own will.
“Our dogs are taught primarily not to have a reaction,” Ferrero adds. “They are very sociable, and they learn from the pack. Anything that helps to stabilize the pack helps them individually.”
Volunteers on this project will work alongside Ferrero and her team of therapists. Taking cues from these professionals, volunteers will have the chance to develop their skills while helping to carry out daily tasks, care for the dogs, and assist patients in reaching their individual goals. Volunteers will also be able to take initiative through planning creative activities for the children at the center and developing and contributing to project evaluation reports.