By Healthy Eagle staff | Dr. Bonnie Offit and her friend worked together on a new idea that could make kids feel better. They created an app where you have your own dog friend, you can take care of it and check on it every day. This is an app that can help people who are feeling sad or anxious to relax, if they don’t have a pet of their own.
“It seems like everywhere people are using dogs to help people relax,” she told Healthy Eagle staff members recently. “But there wasn’t an app for that.”
This app is called Murphy Cares.
The app shows dogs doing activities, like taking a walk, feeding the dog, and playing fetch with it. The creators of the app, Dr. Offit and the co-founder Michelle Davie, who is a nurse at CHOP, hired someone to take videos and pictures of some dogs. The user goes into the app and decides what activity to do with the dog. You can change the dog’s name, the dog’s age, their favorite food, and their favorite toy. “Instead of you having a dog at home, you can feel like you have a dog through the app,” Dr. Offit said.
According to Dr. Offit, they did a small research project at CHOP where a nurse showed the app to the children to see if they liked it or not. They got good results, and found out that the children felt comforted. “Was it because it was a dog? Because it was a game? We don’t know the answer to that question yet,” says Dr. Offit.
Bonnie Offit says that pets can help you relax but they can be a lot to take care of. Dr. Offit says dogs are always happy and will cheer you on. Dogs help people feel calm and comfortable. Sometimes she finds herself watching videos of animals to help calm herself or to lift her mood, because she doesn’t have to do all the work of owning a pet. If people don’t have the time to care for a dog, they can still use Murphy Cares to help them feel relief, and like you have your own dog.
For the app, they used trained dogs, but any cute dog will work. People like all different breeds and types of dogs. “I tend to like little cute dogs,” Dr. Offit said. “But that’s not for everybody. We’re going to have to learn which dogs people like more.”
For now, Murphy Cares is only using dogs in their app. More kinds of pets may be coming in future versions of the app. Maybe a goldfish, a cat, a hamster or other animals that people like.