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Eight ways therapy dogs teach generosity

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What does it mean to be generous? Try asking a therapy dog.

. Therapy dogs and their human partners visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools, libraries and service agencies to bring the special healing and comfort of the human-canine connection. But how can a dog encourage others to be generous and experience the joy of giving?

Therapy dogs provide teachable moments, giving without expecting something in return. When adults want to help their children understand the joy of giving, they often discover that generosity is an abstract concept that can be difficult to describe. Discussing or seeing the work of therapy animals is a way to make generosity come to life in a fun way. Being generous becomes real and tangible.

Therapy dogs provide special comfort and connection to people. A friendly canine may help people develop a more outward focus as they watch and talk about the animals. In seeing animals serve people, children learn lessons in generosity through the up close and personal work of the therapy dog team. People, especially children, relate to animals.

Junior is a registered Therapy Dog and Reading Education Assistance Dog. On Saturday afternoons, the formerly homeless red golden retriever and his handler sit on a blanket together at a Dallas library and listen to children read to Junior. Sharing a good book with a dog helps kids enjoy reading.

It does more than that. A few years ago, Junior was in a shelter, was rescued and went on to become a registered therapy dog. Junior’s story of rescue, his second chance and going on to a life of service inspires young readers and shows what it means to be generous.

Therapy dogs show by example that: 1) Anyone can be generous-even a dog. 2) Giving to others is fun and feels good. 3) Giving your time to someone is a good gift. 4) Little things can mean lot-like shaking hands and a smile. 5) You can give back to others to show you are grateful for what you have. 6) Volunteer with a friend. It’s fun to have a good partner when you are helping others 7) You don’t always have to talk to say thank you. 8) It feels good when someone listen.

Generosity has many faces. Sometimes it has four legs and a tail.

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