Ross School - Senior Projects 2012


Student: Jessica Kim

Mentor: Carleton Schade

Domain(s): Science

Faculty Grader: Patty Lein




Documentation of Product


Title: The Power of Animals & Animal Psychology and Behavior in Pet Visitation



My Senior Project explores the therapeutic effects of dogs on people with physical and/or mental disability and the psychology—inferred from behavior—of the dogs during this process. In a series of ten therapy sessions

this field study simultaneously explores human and animal behaviors as a way to begin an understanding of their mutualistic relationship. Previous research has focused on the therapeutic effects on humans

but there has been little attention devoted to the dogsŐ experiences during the process. The project may perhaps serve as first step in rectifying this oversight. The final product is a poster that describes my field research within this specific discipline.



Description: 2012-02-01 15

Description: ar photo2


Link for Senior Project Powerpoint



Exhibition & Presentation Summary


Basically what I did is I worked with ARF people and dogs over the last few months. ARF is an animal adoption center in Wainscott where they rescue animals and harbor in a safe shelter until they find new homes for these animals.


ARF has a volunteer program called Pet Therapy where they visit patients in a nursing home with shelter dogs and cats and let the patients interact with them. Many studies have shown that animals have beneficial effects on humans, and part of my senior project is to reveal some of the positive benefits from the interaction between the animal and people.


I went to a nursing home in Southampton every Thursday from October to December as Pet Therapy volunteer and studied the effects of animals on people who had physical and/or mental illness. After each visit, I wrote a detailed description of what happened to keep the data. In the end, I created a poster describing my field of research within the therapeutic process.


What I discovered while I was researching is that there were many studies have done about animals having the therapeutic effects on humans, but almost no research has been focused on the dogŐs experiences during this process. My research may perhaps serve as a first attempt to take animalsŐ feelings into consideration in the therapeutic environment where they are used for human benefit. This would help animals from suffering the potential consequences of prolonged visits and therefore improve the animalŐs welfare.


Then I began writing a research paper that would turn into a poster. I used all my diaries that included observations and summaries to make conclusions. After analyzing my results and writing, the most challenging part was editing. The editing process almost took a month just fixing all my mistakes and adding/deleting sentences.


My experience working in the nursing home has been my eye-opener. These dogs connected us emotionally and opened up the door to share ourselves with one another. It was such a rewarding learning experience that I felt motivated to continue the visits. Seeing peopleŐs faces light up and their bodies relax when they interacted with the dogs made me to make every visit the most therapeutic experience possible for them.




Bibliography or Works Consulted


American Veterinary Medical Association. (2011). Guidelines for animal assisted

activity, animal-assisted therapy and resident a programs. Retrieved from


Barker, S. B., & Dawson, K. S. (1998). The effects of animal-assisted therapy on

            anxiety ratings of hospitalized psychiatric patients. Psychiatric Services,

797-801. Retrieved from


Bekoff, M. (2007). The emotional lives of animals. (pp. 16-19). California: New

            World Library.


Dog signs of stress. Retrieved from


Dawkins, M. S. (1990). From an animalŐs point of view: Motivation, fitness, and

            animal welfare. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 13(1), 1-61.


Halm, M. A. (2008). The healing power of the human-animal connection.

American Journal of Critical Care, 17 (4), 373-376. Retrieved from


LaFrance, C., Garcia, L. J., & Labreche, J. (2007). The effect of a therapy dog on

            the communication skills of an adult with aphasia. Journal of

Communication Disorders, 40(3), 215-224.


Patient Education Management. (2002). Pet therapy does more than break

            routine. AHC Medic L.L.C. Retrieved from



Stanley-Hermanns, M., & Miller, J. (2002). Animal-assisted therapy. The

            American Journal of Nursing, 102 (10), 69-76. Retrieved from