At our Reading with the Love Dogs today, several new children joined the group. Each time a new child arrived, everyone wanted to meet them and learn all about them. Names are shared, where do you live, why are you home schooling? Age doesn’t matter, gender doesn’t matter and capability doesn’t matter. Those who can read, do the reading. Those who struggle, try. Those who are very quiet, listen. Everyone has a role in the activity, especially the dogs.
Five Love Dogs were with us today and the kids soon gravitated towards their favorite dogs or a new one today.
One young girl was with us for the first time so she spent a few minutes, or one book, with each dog!
And so many remarkable things happened with Julian today. Reading with the Love Dogs has become an adjunct to his other therapies so we track his progress at this session and share it with his therapists when we see them two days later.
In only two months Julian has made incredible progress in his language skills, sociability, confidence, eye contact and focus, ability to make decisions and comprehend. And he is no longer afraid of dogs.
Julian not only went over on his own to greet every dog but touched them and interacted with the owners. He called the dogs and owners by name and made such direct eye contact each time. He twice moved back when Benny got a bit too close but did it gently and then inched his way closer again. He shocked us all by just reaching out and picking up Benny and Kirby without assistance and he did it really well and safely. He commented that Benny was heavy. Then he picked up Cricket and let Leslie help him pick up Dash. The only dog he couldn’t carry was Bailey!
I asked him several times who he wanted to come on Thursday and he said Benny so Benny it is. Maybe because Benny looks like his Coco doll he has established a closer relationship with him. He watches him so closely and once said he thought the dog winked at him!
Julian was with several other children today and listened while they read stories and walked around the room on his own. He seems so much more social and aware than when we first met.
When we just entered the area today they had skateboard demonstrations and those kids were super noisy and Julian did not seem bothered at all (or the dogs I might add – they were troopers today).
So by integrating this time with the Love Dogs and other children with his more traditional therapies later in the week, so much is being gained.
This is Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) at its purest form – utilizing the power of the animals to break through and truly make a difference.