A Registered Therapy Dog
Coco and I, along with Sparkles, a black labadoodle, and her owner met with about ten to twenty preschoolers and first graders this summer. They were allowed to select their favorite books and sit on the floor with us and read to us. It was a wonderful visit. At the end, one little boy had so much fun he didn’t want to go home. For more information on this program, their web site is www.rocklandmemoriallibrary.org.
Coco and I have been selected to visit with children at the Boston Higashi School in Randolph. There are about 132 students at the school and they range in age from three to twenty two and have Autism Spectrum Disorder. This school offers programs that encourages children to take on challenges, and gain confidence through academics, art, music, and physical education. The children practice basic communication skills with me, are allowed to pet Coco, and take her for a walk on her leash.
This fall Coco and I are visiting the first graders at the Foster School in Hingham on Friday afternoons. They read to us, play with Coco, and practice their reading skills. There are twenty children in the class and each week they write and illustrate a new story to share with us. Sometimes they give them to me, or draw us a picture of Coco. It is always the highlight of our week. Please click onto the Special Friends section to see a few of my favorites.
We attended a Relaxation day at Boston Children’s Museum in August. Coco and four other dogs were selected to meet and greet children and they were allowed to select books to read for us and toys to play with. It was a huge success. We must have met at least 100 children and their families and discussed the work of a therapy dog.
We were invited to Derby Academy to support their “Librarian of the Day Program”. One child is selected to have his or her own “special day” dedicated to them. We were able to meet with our special friend and 30 of his classmates. The children were fascinated by Coco. We read to them, and engaged in a question and answer session with the students and staff about Coco’s job and the life of a therapy dog.
We visit the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit at Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Boston on Wednesdays. Coco is placed onto a blanket in the crib with each child and visits. The children pet her, play with her, and practice their motor skills, by reaching out and stroking her fur. It is always a special day for us. And, there is nothing better than bringing a smile to a child that is not feeling well. We have also found that the staff enjoys our visits as much as the patients. Please visit http://www.franciscanhospital.org for more information.
Jill Flynne invited us to the 2010 NEAFA Calendar Preview show at Arts Exhibition at Derby Street in April. Our role was to educate the public about the work of therapy dogs and the services we offer. And, discuss the work that NEAFA provides. Through the sale of art and memberships, NEAFA funds service companion therapy animals to people who need them and programs that support them. Please visit http://www.neartsforanimals.org for more information about this deserving organization.
Coco and I were invited to the New England School of Law to present and speak on behalf of therapy dog programs throughout the state. Students were engaged in a mock trial discussion about MA House Bill #1499 which would allow judges to include animals in restraining order cases of domestic abuse. Many women are afraid to leave a domicile when abuse is present and cannot bring their pet to a shelter. For more information, please go to http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1248041.
PAWS to Read is a program that we visit bi-weekly through the summer. Children grades two and up practice their reading skills with Coco, gain self-esteem, and increase self-confidence by practicing with a therapy dog. We generally meet four to eight children individually for fifteen minute increments. Please go to http://www.readingpl.org/kids/summerreading for more information.
The Read to A Dog Program was a huge success and all of the slots were filled in a few days. This program was designed to help children practice their reading skills aloud and become better readers. Therapy dogs are friendly, patient, and non-judgmental which makes them the perfect reading partner. And, Coco spent over two and a half hours visiting with children and their families. Please visit http://www.ventresslibrary.org for more information.