The journey with Julian is continuing and he has now met many dogs, including very big ones. His fear is lessening with every introduction and his confidence is building.
Julian experiences things differently and in unique ways. Through his work with the Love Dogs he has made tremendous strides in his language, comprehension, speech, attitude and sociability. He is making choices and decisions on his own. If the dogs are too close, he can calmly back away, He can communicate verbally what he wants. He can make direct eye contact with the dogs, and with people.
Through the deep connection he is establishing with not just Kirby and Benny, but several dogs, each time he is introduced the time it takes to become comfortable is lessened. Now he can walk into a small room with several dogs and lots of noise and stimuli and not panic.
Now he can walk up to a dog all on his own and reach out to touch, pet, stroke, love.
Now he can reach out on his own to pick up Benny, something he would never have done just a few short weeks ago.
Now he can recognize a new dog from the photos he had been shown and say his name and walk right up to him.
Now he can experience his world with bright open eyes and a broad smile.
Now he can walk his own little dog Coco the Love Dog doll proudly and even let his brother play with her. No jealousy or possessiveness.
Now he can sit back and observe quietly without being anxious when dogs and people are moving around.
Now he can make conversation and talk about his dog Coco and the dogs he has met.
He can show people the trading cards for the dogs and talk about their stories. He now has a vehicle to being social and a topic he enjoys speaking about.
So when people ask me “what do therapy dogs REALLY DO?” I will tell them about Julian and how through the healing power of the dogs his world has expanded and his future is less anxious and scary and more gentle and loving.