Lifestyle

Better together when we have our pets’ backs


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The dog-human bond has to be one of the most strongest in an animal lover’s life, and nowhere else has this been noted than in times of calamity- in wars, in pandemics and when the world is in crisis.

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The pandemic has seen the love of a pet, particularly the dog, grow and accelerate – dogs have been there through thick and thin, helping people cope with heartache and loneliness.

It’s this messaging that is at the core of One Health Partners (OHP), a federally-incorporated, non-profit interdisciplinary organization whose mandate is to help support human-animal bond along with an inclusive vision of “one health” care.

Its focus is not only to help a person and his beloved pet – but the pet itself, when in a crisis situation, such as being left behind should the owner be hospitalized, go into a home, or pass away.

“We are not an animal welfare organization although animal welfare is an integral value and commitment of One Health Partners,” notes Heidi Libesman, founder of OHP. “In many ways, we are a new species of an organization operating at the intersection of animal welfare, human health care, education and social services.”

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Libesman explains that OHP is “essentially an idea and framework of inter-professional care and cross-sector collaboration that is built on recognition of human health, animal health and the health of the physical and social environments we share.”

Libesman says the organization is looking at a multi-pronged approach to launching the framework and includes three divisions: a community service division, an innovation lab for research and developing of pilot projects, and an education division.

“In our community service division we have two programs that include supporting our therapy dog program which has a particular focus on mental health and wellness, programs in schools, colleges and universities and our therapy dog-assisted literacy support program,” explained Libesman in a recent interview. “For example we will be starting on working with a school in Toronto that specializes in teaching kids with dyslexia. The kids will be reading to dogs as one of the ways to deal with dyslexia.”

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The other big community initiative set to launch this coming January is called the “Better Together” program, says Libesman. “This is a program which we hope will eventually grow across Canada but we will be piloting in Toronto to begin with. It’s to provide respite care and support for the human-animal bond through periods of human health-care care crisis, disability and rehabilitation. Imagine a person who is living alone who needs to go into an inpatient addiction program for a month. Imagine if the most significant companion to that person happens to be an animal. Stepping in to support that relationship and integrating it into the care plan…is important both for the well-being of the person and the welfare of the animal…One Health Partners hopes to play a leading role in both raising awareness and filling through collaborative partnerships and community support, this important gap in care in our contemporary health-care systems.”

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It’s all about promoting the understanding of the human-animal bond, adds Libesman, and one way this is being achieved is through a special song that is now currently available for download.

Libesman collaborated with multi-platinum musician and composer, Glenn Morrison, to create a new single titled Better Together – a song to celebrate the human-animal bond as well as launch a new social movement based on the music.

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Better Together  is a tribute to and celebration of the human-animal bond,” says Libesman of a team effort that also included contribution of long-time collaborator Brandon Unis. “This was a team effort to make a musical piece that can reflect the ethos and headspace of One Health Partners,” says Libesman.

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At its core Better Together  is a musical invitation to explore human potential for humanity in relation to each other, says Libesman, especially when one considers that over 12 million pets have been adopted since March 2020 into households in North America.

Better Together was co-written by Heidi Libesman and Glenn Morrison, performed by Kat and Josh and published by Sony Music Publishing, and can be listened to via any streaming music app. Spotify: https://lnkd.in/efQHFKHD

Apple Music: music.apple.com/us/album/better-together-single/1592291711

For additional details, check out Onehealthpartners.org , or follow on Instagram @ohpbettertogether and @ohptherapydogs.

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