Canine-assisted therapy (sometimes just canine therapy) is a therapeutical method (for humans) that involves contact with dogs. Dogs are intelligent, friendly animals whose mere presence can lift the spirits of many. Canine therapy goes beyond the joy of companionship that dogs have shared with humans for millenia to help those in need, particularly depression patients, the elderly, and the socially disadvantaged. Canine therapy can be done on an individual or communal basis, utilizing various canine breeds.
Pomocné tlapky o.p.s. (meaning "Helping Paws") is known mainly for the training of seeing-eye dogs, offers canine therapy since 2001, currently through a network of over 70 practitioners nationwide. Professional canine therapists and volunteers make "rounds" with their dogs in retirement homes, orphanages and children's homes, rehabilitation centers, hospices, disability institutes, mental health institutes, and other healthcare facilities. Fore more information see canisterapie.cz.
In 2015, our colleague Monika Procházková and Sean, her golden retriever, became active canine therapists, with our support. To be able to practice canine therapy in the Czech Republic, the dog and its person need to complete specialized training and certification. Re-certification is required annually for the canine therapy team (i.e., the dog and its person), entailing an examination at an authorized facility; in this case, the Helping Paws charity.
We strive to support Monika and Sean in their activities; some of us participated in their visits to the Pyšely Children's Home, the Good Shepherd Hospice, and the Příbram Day Care Center (details). A dog's presence positively affects both the physical and mental state of patients; through special physical and psychological therapy techniques, canine therapy helps bring joy into patients' lives.
We regularly hold Children's Day events, mainly during the traditional F AIR Cup navigation competition, which we have been hosting for over 20 years now. Children are treated to a day of (supervised) fun in our hangar, a spin on our flight simulator, and a tour of the airport and our fleet. We also participate in various youth social events.
For several years now, we have supported a number of events and organizations in the Benešov region through patronage and charitable donations; from events held by the Czech Light Aircraft Association to the Pyšely Children's Home, the nearby Good Shepherd Hospice, and others.
Secondary school education and training the next generation of aviation professionals
We collaborate with several secondary schools offering aviation-related programs, where we conduct regular visits to familiarize students with the career opportunities of being a professional pilot. We also provide hands-on internships for students of Aircraft Mechanic programs and flight school internships for Aviation students. We also offer student summer internships and part-time employment.
We hold Open Days where the general public can experience the world of aviation, with a special focus on secondary school students interested in learning about career options as professional pilots.