ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Gene Plays Key Role in Clubfoot
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Barefoot Lifestyle Has Its Dangers
CANCER
Smoking Exposure Now Linked to Colon, Breast Cancers
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
CAREGIVING
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
Babies Born in High Pollen Months at Wheezing Risk
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
DIABETES
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
DIET, NUTRITION
Probiotics Are The Good Guys
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Eating your way to Good Health
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Vest Monitors 'Individual' Air Pollution
Heavy Traffic Can Be Heartbreaking
Hypertension May Hit Black Males Earlier
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Test Could Spot Diabetes Vision Trouble Early
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
FITNESS
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Simple Steps Get Walkers Moving
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Good Sleepers More Likely to Eat Right
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
MEN'S HEALTH
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
MENTAL HEALTH
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
SENIORS
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Calcium Helps Ward Off Colon Cancer
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
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'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue

Dogs perform lifesaving jobs every day. They sniff out bombs, locate lost children and even find people buried by avalanches.

Now another type of specially trained working dog has emerged in recent years. Comfort dogs come to the emotional rescue of people who are suffering in the aftermath of disasters or battling the difficulties of daily life.

Their job is deceptively simple: to get people to open up and talk about what happened.

Amy Rideout, president of HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response, a national organization with more than 100 certified dog-handler teams, said engaging in a discussion about an experience is healing and helps a person to overcome a traumatic event.

There are other health benefits the pooches provide. Research has shown the simple act of petting a dog helps to lower blood pressure, lift spirits and reduce stress.

"There are not too many things that we can do that can make an instantaneous impact on somebody, so this is special work," she said.

To become certified with HOPE, dog-handler teams must go through 40 hours of basic training, then tackle specialized coursework such as learning crisis intervention skills and the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) incident command system, as well as participating in mock disaster drills. Dogs are painstakingly desensitized to sights, sounds and smells typically encountered during a disaster. And all teams are recertified yearly.

Members of HOPE have responded to some of the decade's worst tragedies, including Hurricane Katrina and the Virginia Tech school shootings.

After 9/11, Rideout and her hound, Janie, were sent to a family assistance center in New York City to support families who had lost a loved one. But surprisingly, she said, it was the stressed-out emergency responders who seemed to need her and Janie the most.

"Those were the folks who would come up to Janie and give her a big bear hug and say, 'Thank you. I needed that before I went back to work today,'" she recalled.

Not all comfort dogs are used to help people emotionally cope after disaster strikes.

Meet Fuerst. Every weekday morning around 9 a.m., Pastor Tim Engel drives his faithful canine partner to work at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Portage, Ind.

Fuerst is one of nearly 30 Golden Retrievers permanently placed at churches throughout Indiana and Illinois by Lutheran Church Charities, a national ministry.

"His job is to help open up opportunities for conversations and Christian ministry that otherwise wouldn't happen," explained Engel.

The retriever has been at Holy Cross for a little more than a year now.

Fuerst -- the German word for prince -- goes everywhere with pastor Engel, from visiting nursing homes and emergency hospital rooms to attending Sunday service.

"Not everybody sees the value of [Fuerst] like I do," he admits. "But the majority of the members look forward to seeing him on Sunday morning and they understand his function in our church."

Like others in the K9 Parish Comfort Dog Ministry, Fuerst has his own business card. On the front are his picture and the church's phone number; on the back is his job description. The business cards are frequently handed out in the community, he said.

On occasion, people have phoned the church to schedule a private meeting with Fuerst -- and only Fuerst.

Engel laughs recalling some of those requests but insists that he isn't offended.

"If the dog provides comfort for people and is something that makes them feel more at ease then the dog is doing his job," he said.

SOURCES: Amy Rideout, president, HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response; Timothy Engel, pastor, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Portage, Ind.

Last Updated: March 18, 2010