Oklahoma City VA Health Care System welcomes Val, the facility’s newest dog | Community
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City VA Health Care Systems has a new four-legged member of its Recreational Therapy team, Val, a two-year-old Canine Companions® Labrador Retriever.
Canine Companions is a non-profit organization that provides service dogs to adults, children and veterans with disabilities and facility dogs to professionals working in healthcare, criminal justice and education . They provide recipients with expert-trained assistance and installation dogs free of charge.
“Val is our new facility dog who comes to work with me every day,” said Kacie Ingram, recreation therapist. “She helps veterans achieve their rehabilitation goals. »
A Canine Companions facility dog is trained to perform service dog commands, including picking up objects, opening doors, and applying soothing pressure to the client’s lap or body. Their learned skills can be used to improve therapies, promote participation and reduce client anxiety in professional settings.
Establishment dogs are bred to be calm, dependable, and affectionate to aid in the development of independent life skills. Additionally, the handler can integrate a facility dog into a variety of structured therapies and use it to facilitate social interactions.
Val works in the field of acute care rehabilitation as well as outpatient recreation therapy.
“Val starts her day at the outpatient recreation therapy clinic at 14e Street Clinic where she brightens the day for many veterans,” Ingram said. “And then to the main medical center to work in acute care rehabilitation.”
“Val works one-on-one with our rehab patients,” Ingram continued. “Depending on the veteran she works with, her help is different. In rehabilitating stroke patients, we practice fine motor skills by having veterans practice brushing. Additionally, the veterans work on memory and pronunciation by memorizing commands and then giving them to Val to follow.
Val joined Raisin, an eight-year-old Labrador Retriever who has been at the OKC VA Medical Center for six and a half years.
Installation dogs differ from service dogs in that installation dogs are not assigned to a single person to assist. They are assigned to a manager working in a facility where they help professionals like our recreation therapists here at the AV who help many veterans.
“Val has been here for a month and has seen almost a hundred veterans,” Ingram said.
According to the press release, anyone is welcome to greet Val or Raisin if they see them in the halls, members of the recreation therapy team would ask veterans to ask to pet Val or Raisin in case they are working. with other veterans or patients.
But, “be warned,” the statement noted, “Val has a tendency to slip and expose her belly to anyone caressing her, so expect to be delayed with the requisite belly rubs.”
For more information about the Oklahoma VA health care system, visit va.gov/oklahoma-city-health-care.