Not All JourneyPure Employees Wear Suits and Ties: Rhado the Therapy Dog

Written by Journey Pure Staff

Meet Rhado. Rhado wears the title of assistant barn manager at JourneyPure at the River and he’s an important part of the staff. As a certified emotional support dog or therapy dog Rhado is there for patients in recovery, providing comfort when they are experiencing anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and other conditions.

Animal-assisted Therapy Benefits

Animal-assisted therapy is a popular and effective method of calming and reducing anxiety in settings such as hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, and hospice facilities. Those in treatment for substance use disorders often experience co-occurring mental health issues and can benefit from interactions with trained certified dogs like Rhado. The Mayo Clinic attributes animal-assisted therapy to help to reduce pain, anxiety, depression, and fatigue in people with a variety of health issues such as veterans suffering from PTSD, long-term illness cases, patients undergoing cancer treatments and it’s even effective in calming fears of children undergoing dental procedures.

Rhado the Therapy Dog Assists in Equine Therapy

Courtney Pearre, barn manager and equine specialist at JourneyPure at the River, utilizes Rhado’s special skills during the Equine Assisted Therapy sessions. She said some patients are hesitant to approach the horses and Rhado the therapy dog is a huge help. She remembers one young lady who started off scared and skeptical but with Rhado’s help, was completely won over by a horse named Willie.

 “Before she even started talking Rhado was already sitting next to her and kept pushing against her, which is a sign that someone has anxiety,” Pearre said. “He would kind of look at her like ‘pet me, pet me’ and she finally broke down in tears.”

The patient worked up the nerve to approach Willie. She stood from a distance, taking Pearre’s advice to talk to him – tell him that she didn’t care to be around him, that she was scared of him and intimidated. Pearre aims for her patients to match from the inside out when it comes to their feelings. The horses, like Rhado, can sense from the energy in the air to the tone of a voice when someone is feeling anxious or upset.

“Rhado kept going up to her with the ball, leaning against her trying to distract her. She’d play with Rhado and try to pet the horse.” The Pearre her say ‘I think I’m finally ok with petting you.’  

Willie’s demeaner changed. He lowered his head as if he were listening.

“A 1200-pound animal with a wild spirit just turned into a complete butterball just over her words,” Pearre said. “Just talking to him, having someone listening to her, because he didn’t have anything else going on in the world but listening to her, meant a lot to her.”

And Rhado seemed to know that his new friend was okay so he backed off and let her bond with Willie. A job well done, Rhado.

Treatment at JourneyPure at the River

JourneyPure at the River is a nature-inspired retreat perfect for healing from the wounds of addiction. Our experiential therapies, like equine, are an excellent therapeutic method for building trust and mindfulness while challenging the mind and body. If you or a loved one are ready to take that next step, call us today at 844-875-7670. Rhado, Willie and the rest of the staff at JourneyPure are ready for you!