Canine TherapyPosted: August 7, 2011
A lot of people already know that doggies are helpful with a lot of different jobs over the years. They have been used to help with herding, sniffing down bad guys, keeping away predators, and hunting. My ancestors, the silky terrier and the Yorkshire terrier, were originally bred to root out pests – specifically snakes and rats! Traces of this hunting instinct can be seen in me when I try to chase after flying birds. Or golf carts.
Anyway, these days doggies get to help humans with a whole lot of other things on top of the jobs listed above. We don’t just sniff out bad guys, but also bombs, drugs – and even people that have gone missing or are trapped in disaster situations. They help people with blindness or visual impairments navigate the world. They are able to help people with physical disabilities or limitations do day-to-day tasks like getting the phone or turning on the lights. Some people who have mental illness even find it helpful to have doggies around as therapy dogs: Mama attended an event where a woman from the local chapter of NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) spoke about how keeping a therapy dog (a rescued greyhound that had been a racedog – not the typical breed for a therapy dog, but the lady trained him well) helped her manage hallucinations that she had; having the doggie around helped remind her that the hallucinations were not real.
Mama showed me this article on our local paper: A human mother wrote about how getting a dog helped her son in his development. As a dog myself, I would argue that having a dog around is going to be beneficial to anybody – but her son had some additional challenges a lot of other people don’t. Apparently, he had a rare neurological condition that was making it really difficult for him to speak and even made him really scared around strangers. Since he liked animals, his doctor encouraged the family to get a pet. After getting a poodle named Hattie, her son started to thrive, both developmentally and socially. Keep in mind that Hattie is not even a trained therapy dog. These positive changes just came about when she was brought into the family.
He says his best friend is Hattie. How sweet is that?
I am no therapy dog, and I am not sure that I have the temperament to qualify as one (there are all these tests and stuff you need to go through, and I’ve talked before about how I am no good with tests). But when Daddy is bored, I climb next to him and he plays with me. When Mama is sad, I curl up next to her, and she cuddles me and tells me I’m a good girl. I may not root out vermin or have a slip from an official calling me legit, but I’d like to think I help My People just as much as any working dog. Maybe not as much as Hattie, but in my own small way.