Mount Pleasant Magazine Nov/Dec 2023

43 www. ReadMPM. com | www.MountPl easantMagaz i ne. com | www.MountPl easantPodcas t . com It was a gloomy Thursday morning when Jaxson, a sweet-spirited goldendoodle, pulled into the Channel 4 News parking lot to appear on a special segment for “Lowcountry Live”. Followed closely by handler Cathy Bennett, Jaxson jaunted into the station wearing a bright yellow rain jacket, and for a brief moment, it didn’t seem as dark and gloomy out as before. Jaxson, along with a host of other certified therapy dogs, is a part of the MUSC Animal Therapy Program. This special program gives patients a caring companion to pet and interact with while staying in the hospital. Bennett said Jaxson does “a lot of occupational therapy and physical therapy with stroke patients, as well as patients battling Parkinson’s.” Studies have shown that exposure to therapy animals can lower pain levels, blood pressure and cholesterol. Their presence also helps greatly with fighting off feelings of loneliness. Jaxson was visiting “Lowcountry Live” to help spread awareness about the program and to educate people on just how beneficial their services are, something Bennett is extremely passionate about. According to his handler, “It is something that you have to actually witness and experience to be able to understand the impact.” Jaxson wasn’t alone in sharing the benefits that animals have in helping their bipedal partners. Three other dogs also visited the “Lowcountry Live” set. Among them was Mr. Frisco, who, along with his human, real estate agent Tony Tonelis, helps buyers find pet-friendly properties. When moving to the Charleston area in 2017, Tonelis found that Mr. Frisco’s needs were a huge factor in determining where to live. That experience led him to his desire to help others find the perfect home to accommodate both themselves and their four-legged family members. “Seventy percent of families have at least one pet,” Tonelis said. mount pleasant pets Grayson Sch i rmer Jones and fur r y f r i end ta l k pet i nsurance wi th Er i n K i enz l e.