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Meet Our Therapy Dog: Tun Baldwin

At Restorative Physical Therapy we are always willing to find new and creative ways to help treat and motivate our patients to heal. From specialized exercises, to cupping, and unique techniques with Integrative Manual Therapy, our therapists are always looking for ways to give our patients the unique care they deserve for a Physical Therapy clinic in Chesapeake Virginia. The newest addition to our clinic has been the use of pet therapy, and we are excited to introduce our therapy dog, Tun.

Tun is a full bread Red Golden Retriever with a personality that is sure to have you loving him the minute you walk in our door and he greets you. Red Golden Retrievers are said to be great therapy dogs due to their innate intellect and historical working background. Fun-loving, smart, loyal, and devoted are some of the qualities that can describe Tun on a daily basis. He enjoys human company a lot and when it comes to children, he is very cautious and gentle.

At 7 months, Tun, is still learning new skills but he has mastered sit, stay, lay down, and his biggest accomplishment of potty training. He loves to "come to work" on Tuesdays and Thursdays and really loves his job at the clinic as our unofficial greeter, patient mood booster, and entertainer. Once he has graduated from his basic skills classes Tun will start his training to become a certified Therapy Dog.

For centuries, humans have relied on canine companions as workers and rescuers, and have loved them as playmates and honorary family members. So it should come as no surprise that Therapists have learned to leverage the special bond between dogs and humans to help patients recover from a number of physical ailments. Listed below are some of the most useful services that therapy dogs, and hopefully Tun, will provide in partnership with our Physical Therapists to help heal our patients.


Dogs inspire interest and participation during therapy for patients of all ages. Patients are inclined to perform tasks they believe are beneficial to an animal, and then this notion is reinforced by the instant gratification they receive when the animal expresses appreciation for the task being performed. This in turn lifts patients' spirits while they, too, receive healing benefits during the task.

  • With children: Children with short attention spans have difficulty completing tasks, and often struggle to find the desire to perform new tasks. Most children enjoy activities more, however, when dogs are present, and a deeper engagement in therapy helps them maintain focus longer. And once young patients are able to clearly witness their new skills in action, they improve their commitment to therapy.

  • With adults: Combining an unselfish demeanor with an eagerness to please, most dogs are exceptionally tolerant when working with patients struggling to make progress in therapy. Their ability to remain calm inspires patients to adopt similar behaviors, thus improving the recovery process. Dogs are also credited for lowering a human's blood pressure and increasing serotonin levels in the brain, which helps alleviate a patient's depression or anxiety during recovery.

Help with Motor Skills

Many dogs receive specialized training so that their behavior benefits patients. For example, dogs sit still while hand or wrist therapy patients practice grooming techniques with hairbrushes and small clips.

Help with Balance and Endurance

Dogs that enthusiastically retrieve a ball again and again during a game of fetch (like our dog Tun) can help recovering post-op patients improve their balance and throwing skills. This simple exercise also strengthens the patient's muscles while typically resulting in a lengthier exercise routine then if performed without a dog.

Help with Walking

Patients in Physical Therapy very often strive to increase their mobility and independence, especially through regaining their ability to walk. Dogs can hold a steady gait while walking along side patients, who can then keep a secure pace of their own. This consistency can help comfort patients and provides them with noticeable improvements as they compare their strides with that of the dogs. Well-trained dogs excel at recognizing the needs and limitations of the humans they help.

We are excited for what Tun's future will look like here at Restorative Physical Therapy and how many patient's lives he will influence. Next time you come in the door be ready to be greeted by not only our friendly human staff, but our Therapy dog too, and if you're lucky you may just get a big sloppy kiss :)



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