Zoom Goes To The Dogs? Virtual Therapy Or Fad?

Zoom has built a phenomenal organization during a time when many small businesses are losing top-line revenues faster than a barefoot jackrabbit on a hot greasy griddle in the middle of August.

With millions of folks being forced to shelter in place to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus, many have innovated in creative ways to virtually stay social through business meetings, family reunions, happy hours, and all kinds of meet-ups.

Daily downloads of the Zoom app have increased 30x year-over-year and the app has been the top free app for iPhones in the U.S. since March 18, according to Bernstein Research and Apptopia. Zoom said daily users spiked to 200 million in March, up from 10 million in December.

Therapy for Therapy Dogs

Animals have been used to spice up Zoom meetings. In my post "Covid-19 Prompted 'Goat 2 Meeting' For Your Next Zoom Conference Call" Goat 2 Meeting jumped on the Zoom bandwagon to piggy-back [actually goat-back]. For a fee, Zoomers can choose to add a goat to their attendee list.

However, Zoom conference calls for 'animal therapy' by kids is a new twist for this service. To help children build their confidence and foster their love of pets, People Animals Love (PAL) allows children to read to therapy dogs via Zoom. This was a practice previously held at libraries, military depots, and other community organizations.

However, do animals need to be shrinked, soothed, or comforted virtually? Particularly therapy dogs? Isn't this reversing the paradigm? Isn't it therapy dogs' jobs to provide therapy for humans?

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream . . .

"It's such a nice interaction," says James Haworth, the executive director of PAL. "I sometimes pop in [to calls] and oftentimes I see that kids are barely looking up from the book—they're really on a mission!"

He describes the online experience as somewhat of a virtual conference, an opportunity for a group to come together before going to a breakout room with a pup, perhaps to consider adoption.

"Some of the dogs fall asleep, but the kids don't seem to mind!"

The Zoom/PAL Program

PAL,the D.C.-based organization wants to create excitement about the strong bonds between people and pets, and typically schedules visits to hospitals, schools, adoption centers, and other locations throughout the community. However, given the times, PAL has taken its efforts online. This means that regardless of location, children throughout the country can conduct these visits from the comfort of their homes.

Zoom is currently offering 30-minute slots for 200 kids a week. (Here's the sign-up form.)

They indicate urgency, as the spots fill quickly.


Based on the successful campaigns PAL has run in the past, and how well Zoom has been received in our new world -- the Age of the Coronavirus -- it's my belief that this program is not a fad. I think it "has legs" both literally and figuratively. Our trained therapy dogs need a break, just like any human that's work in the psychological and sociological fields.

I give this initiative four paws up!

Your thoughts, readers?


Primary Source: Timeout