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Healing Paws®

Animal Assisted Therapy Provider


"a special kind of listening"

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(425) 488-3061

News & Events


Healing the Spirit: 

A Children's HealthLink Speical

Yahoo News segment:


From healing paws to poetry programs, see the innovative and inspiring ways Seattle Children's goes beyond traditional medicine to heal kids.


Healing the Spirit

Healing Paws CEO Christi Dudzik was interviewed by King 5 News about a new grant gifted to Seattle Children's Hospital by PetSmart. This money will be put toward the Pet Therapy program at Seattle Children's, boosting the therapy team total from nine to 19 teams. 

If you would like to read the article and see the news footage, please visit:

PetSmart Grant allows for ten new Pet Therapy Teams


Four-legged Rehab

Animal assisted therapy can enhance other therapies for stroke survivors in hospitals and rehab settings


Posted by Ann Ahlers at


If you have a pet, you may know the value of having an animal in your life. But beyond that, human-animal interaction in a hospital or rehab setting can have profoundly noticeable effects on a stroke survivor’s recovery.

Registered animal assisted therapy teams work with stroke survivors across the country in hospital and rehab settings.

Christi Dudzik, MC, LMHC, is a licensed mental health counselor and owns Healing Paws, a company that among other things, educates healthcare and other professionals on how to incorporate animals into treatment. She has worked with therapy animals and patients for years in hospital rehab settings and has seen firsthand the value of involving an animal in a stroke survivor’s recovery process.

In animal assisted therapy, a therapy animal and human companion work together with a patient and a licensed therapist, such as a speech therapist. The animal-handler team serves as the therapist’s tool or as Dudzik puts it, “the bridge to bring the therapist and patient together.”

Animal assisted therapy teams can work with many different types of after effects of stroke, including aphasia, spasticity, hemiparesis and depression.

For instance, a therapy dog can help encourage language in a stroke survivor with aphasia. “If I get my dog to do something,” says Dudzik, “[the patient] will say ‘good boy’ in a way you can understand them. If they give my dog a basic command, and the dog responds, it makes a person more inclined to want to talk because they’re realizing that someone is able to understand them.”

Dudzik has also experienced animal assisted therapy with stroke survivors with mobility issues. “I’ve worked with patients who are tying to walk again but not wanting to get out of their wheelchair and don’t think they can,” she says. “When they have the incentive of walking with the dog to the end of the hall, they’re intrigued.”

One of Dudzik’s therapy dogs could walk backwards and would often “moon walk” in front of patients in the rehab room as the patient followed. She has seen patients walk twice as far as they did the day before simply because of the interaction with a therapy dog. “They are distracted by the dog and aren’t aware they’re walking twice as far.”

Of course, there are instances in which a therapy animal would not be recommended, such as in cases that would endanger the safety of the patient or animal, with patients who have allergies or fear of animals, with certain mental health issues, and for cultural reasons (e.g., the patient doesn’t believe that an animal belongs in a medical facility).

But for many others, animal assisted therapy teams can be a positive and very helpful addition to a rehabilitation regimen.

Yahoo News segment:

On April 2, 2014, handler Christi Dudzik and Paddy visited with staff at the Medical Examiner’s Office in order to give them a break from their work on the mudslide in Oso, Washington. 


Here is the link to the Yahoo News segment:

Medical investigator pets therapy dog


KING 5 News:  Seattle researcher seeks crowdfunding for pet therapy for kids with cancer

Here is the link to the KING 5 News segment:  Pet Therapy for Kids with Cancer

Here is the Crowdfunding website:  Can pet visits help kids with cancer?

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