Every other Saturday at the Calli Institute in Maple Grove, Otis greets patients at the door and offers support and attentive listening during therapy sessions.
As the official Calli Institute therapy dog, Otis has worked side-by-side with his owner and boss, therapist Cathy Malmon, LICSW, LMFT since the mental health clinic opened its doors in 2010. The Old English Sheepdog is 11 years old and comforts patients in a way no human therapist can.
White and fluffy with a lolling pink tongue, Otis’ career started when he accompanied Cathy to work at a clinic in Pennsylvania. Cathy noticed that Otis’ presence had a calming effect, helping her patients open up more easily. She also noticed Otis’ intuitive sense for knowing when people are upset and how to comfort them.
Since completing the Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog Training classes at the Humane Society, Otis has provided love and comfort to patients of all types via family and couples therapy, group and individual therapy. In addition, Otis has spent time at the Kids Connection program in Minneapolis and has regularly visited local nursing homes and classrooms.
Studies have shown that interacting with dogs can reduce pain and loneliness and lower blood pressure and acute stress. Therapy animals assist therapists in helping patients improve self-esteem, develop social skills and treat mental health issues including anxiety, depression, eating disorders and post traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).
Large in size but gentle in nature, Otis helps patients at the Calli Institute during their healing journey and brightens the day of everyone he meets.