HABIT, Overcoming Life’s ObstaclesJohn C. New, Jr.College of Veterinary Medicine
We encounter obstacles at all stages of our life. To overcome some, we need help. HABIT (Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee) was founded 25 years ago to help people deal with obstacles through the phenomenon of the human-animal bond (H-AB). The Bond is defined as a mutually beneficial, dynamic relationship between people and animals that is essential to the health and well-being of both. As a program of the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, HABIT sponsors animal-assisted therapy in 12 counties and 120 program sites in nursing/retirement homes, assisted living centers, hospitals, and area schools. It is powered by the dedication and compassion of over 300 volunteers, including some from the University. HABIT includes over 350 medically and behaviorally screened dogs, cats and rabbits, and its volunteer teams made over 150,000 visits last year. However, the best way to understand how HABIT volunteers help others deal with obstacles is through their stories.