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State Farm

It was Christmas 1994 when Scarlet Ross and her 10-year-old son went to get photos of their cat and dog with Santa.

Getting a dog — let alone a cat — to cooperate for such a photo op might be tough.

Not for these pets. Neither one seemed fazed by being held by a bearded stranger in a bright red suit.


Scarlet's dog, Tyler, with Santa. Image via Scarlet Ross, used with permission.

Amazedby their calmness, someone approached Scarlet and asked her if she would be interested in getting her animals involved with a new animal therapy group: the Human Animal Bond (HAB).

After all, the stranger explained, if her animals were so even-tempered with Santa, they’d probably make great therapy animals.

Scarlet was immediately intrigued.

She decided to leave the cat at home, but she took her sheltie to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to see if he was a good fit. He passed with flying colors, and "That’s just how I got involved," she says. She remains a volunteer with HAB to this day.

Scarlet and Tyler visiting a nursing home resident 20 years ago. Image via Scarlet Ross, used with permission.

The volunteer-run organization was started by the U.S. Military Veterinary Services because they know how strong the bond between humans and animals can be.

The military veterinary services "felt that animals had a particular benefit to army families because of all the moving," explains Ruie Gibson, a long-time HAB board member and volunteer.

Snickers, a greyhound HAB therapy dog, at HAB's annual picnic. Image by Tammy Patton, used with permission.

Not to be confused with service dogs, therapy dogs can provide comfort and support to those who need it. And there is science to back it up.

Psychologists, psychiatrists, and doctors have used, and continue to use, therapy dogs with patients because they have found they can help reduce feelings of depression.

Studies have also shown that simply petting dogs can help lower people’s heart rates and reduce stress and anxiety.

The military wrote a regulation, and the animal therapy group Human Animal Bond was born to help provide this service to those in need of comfort and support.

Families that are interested in being a part of HAB can sign up their dogs, cats, and even rabbits to be therapy pets.

HAB volunteer Erika Chester and her cat, Mia. Image via HAB, used with permission.

If these animals pass the temperament test, they can join the HAB network with their family.

"I would say that 99% of the time, the people who come to us and who want to do this, or think that their pet would be good at this, pass the temperament test no problem," Ruie says. "They wouldn’t even consider it if they didn’t think their dog would like it."

Once they’re members, the families take a special training session once a year — which, Ruie says, is actually more for the owners than the dogs.

After that, the volunteers and their therapy pets sign up for and attend as many HAB events as they can with their schedules.

Two volunteers and their HAB therapy dogs at the annual Veterans Day Parade. Image via HAB, used with permission.

Sometimes the HAB therapy pets go to schools and libraries to meet students.

They even help kids who are having trouble reading practice doing it aloud.

Cobalt, a beagle mix, visits a teacher and her classroom in Leavenworth. Image via HAB, used with permission.

Other times, the pets visit nursing homes, elderly care facilities, or rehab facilities.

Goose, an HAB therapy dog, visiting a rehab facility.  Image via HAB, used with permission.

They also go to a minimum security correctional facility on the military base to visit nonviolent offenders.

"That’s a very popular program," Ruie says, adding that there is always a waiting list of inmates wanting to see the dogs.

Scarlet has now been an active volunteer with HAB for the last 23 years and has had several of her dogs join the program.

"It is very important to me," she says. "It’s very rewarding to see the joy of it."

"A couple of years ago, I had a dog that was blind, deaf, and incontinent, and we would go to the nursing home and talk about that," Scarlet remembers.

Scarlet's dog Aunt Bea was a regular visitor at the local nursing home. Image via Scarlet Ross, used with permission.

This dog, named Aunt Bea, was 12 or 13 when Scarlet adopted her, and she was also missing her teeth. When she went to the nursing home to visit, Aunt Bea "had to wear her Depends," Scarlet continues, but "many of the residents related to her health condition. ... They really enjoyed meeting her."

Today, Scarlet's two dogs — a rescued golden retriever named Josie and a wild-haired shih tzu named Phyllis Diller — are both in the program.

Scarlet and Josie, an HAB therapy dog. Image via Scarlet Ross, used with permission.

"I love sharing my animals with these people that have had animals in the past and can’t have them now," she says. "They get to hug them, they pet them, and I take photos of them with my pet and give it to them so they can have it."

That's why she particularly loves visiting the nursing homes with her dogs.

Tyler with a nursing home resident at Christmas. Image via Scarlet Ross, used with permission.

"So many need a special touch or hug that they used to get," she says.

Being involved with HAB has also helped make Scarlet feel closer to her animals too.

"I love all of my dogs, however, with my therapy dogs there is a special bond and closeness," she explains. "When you work with them like that, that’s a special connection."  

Scarlet's shih tzu, Phyllis Diller, is also a hit at senior facilities because her crazy hair makes them laugh. Image via Scarlet Ross, used with permission.

Whether it's visiting the elderly or helping kids practice reading, it's clear that HAB has been making a difference in people’s lives.

All animal lovers understand the joy their pets can bring. But sharing that joy is a step beyond.

HAB therapy dogs and member families at their 2017 annual picnic. Image via Tammy Patton, used with permission.

All it takes is one visit at a school or nursing home to know your therapy dog is making a difference, Ruie says. "Sometimes they might not even want to touch the dog, but just being in the presence, it’s amazing what a difference it can make."

HAB dog Zorro and Maj. D. Thomas at the Munson Army Health Center. Image via HAB, used with permission.

"You might not know that it raises someone’s mood right away, but after you talk to a nurse, you find out that this patient hadn’t talked all day until they saw the dog."

"It’s amazing the things that do happen in their presence," she adds, "I don’t know how long it stays that way, but at least for a short time, they feel better."

If you think your pet would make a good therapy pet and you live in the Fort Leavenworth area, check out their website for ways to get involved as a volunteer.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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