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therapy: working at the high school level



 
 
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  #1  
Old May 12th 04, 02:08 PM
Kyler Laird
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Default therapy: working at the high school level

I've posted a couple of times about our wonderful experiences working
in therapy situations with young children. Last year our dog who
excelled at physical therapy died and then the therapy program was
cut completely (due to budget cuts - not because Garbo died).

This year I've had some visits with great high school guys. We had
visited the elementary school for the same school system and knew a
couple of the boys from there but most were new to us. For these
visits, I took our youngest dog, Grazie. This was a *completely*
different experience than the therapy sessions with Garbo.

I wouldn't classify these visits as "therapy" - not for the boys, at
least. They're just "animal-assisted activity." Getting to work
with the dog on Fridays is a reward for having done well during the
week.

When I say "work with the dog" I mean it. I take Grazie because
she's anxious in crowds. We found her full-grown in the wilds of a
nearby nature reserve and she still doesn't have that immediate love
of strangers that our other dogs have. Having been in some *very*
difficult situations, however, I have great faith in her not
presenting a danger to anyone. This makes her behavior an asset in
some situations.

At the school, the guys know that Grazie is uncomfortable in crowds.
They take good care of her, being very gentle and soothing. If they
are patient enough, she'll perform some commands for them
http://lairds.org/Kyler/photos/contr...g/image_viewer
but mostly we hang out and chat in the room
http://lairds.org/Kyler/photos/contr...g/image_viewer
and take a walk around the school.
http://lairds.org/Kyler/photos/contr...g/image_viewer
http://lairds.org/Kyler/photos/contr...g/image_viewer

The guys at this school are great and I couldn't ask for better
people to work with Grazie. It's a nice break in my day to visit
with them. My favorite single moment was one of our early visits
when the guys had been *so* patient with Grazie and finally she
just backed away from me (a miracle on its own) and sat down on
one of the boys.
http://lairds.org/Kyler/photos/contr...G/image_viewer
For other dogs that would be insignificant but the guys knew that
they had earned it.

I've done some substitute teaching at the high school and middle
school levels, and our earlier therapy sessions were with
preschoolers. I usually prefer working with younger children but
I've been surprised at how gentle and caring these guys have been.
It's one thing to be "well-mannered" (which they are) but they're
also genuinely kind.
http://lairds.org/Kyler/photos/contr...g/image_viewer
They're also old enough to stimulate deeper conversations which I
enjoy so much that I end up staying far longer than a normal visit.

This is a rural school (no metal detectors/constant coercion/etc.)
but I suspect that the people are the same in many settings.
Please consider a local high school among your volunteer choices.

Thank you.

--kyler

P.S. We just started agility training and Grazie (at age 9) is
excelling in spite of my efforts. I'm hoping to incorporate some
agility lessons in our visits.
  #2  
Old May 12th 04, 09:26 PM
Jo Wolf
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Default

Our therapy dog group works regularly in schools, from pre-kindergarden
on up. Rather than therapeutic applications, most of our school work is
Education. Safety around dogs, safe petting, bite prevention, basic pet
care, etc. As the grade level goes up, content may include the effect
of dogs on history, economics, agriculture.... or laws pertaining to
dogs... or the psychology of training, genetics, the arts, etc., as
requested by the instructor.

Our dog training club uses therapy dogs as part of a club-sponsored
educational enrichment program. The children read the book "Rosie the
Therapy Dog", and discuss such concepts as selection of the dog,
genetics (breed), health and hygiene, training, and assignments. There
is a writing assignment, as well.... and each child does a short
presentation. It ends with a presentation by club members with their
therapy dogs, question and answer session and petting. This program was
brought to our club by a new member who had worked with it in
Louisville, KY. So far we have used it in elementary and middle
schools. The class itself is taught by a teacher. It's about 4-6
sessions.

We also have a few members doing the reading-to-a-dog reading program
for younger children.

I wish we had the opportunity to do a more intensive program with older
kids with special needs, but the schools haven't asked, and we have
limited resources, like everybody else.

Jo Wolf
Martinez, Georgia

  #3  
Old May 13th 04, 12:08 AM
Kyler Laird
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Default

(Jo Wolf) writes:

Our therapy dog group works regularly in schools, from pre-kindergarden
on up. Rather than therapeutic applications, most of our school work is
Education. Safety around dogs, safe petting, bite prevention, basic pet
care, etc.


*Very* cool. That's one of the things I had in mind years ago when I was
first thinking about working in schools with dogs. My interest was mostly
in increasing awareness of animal rescue and reducing the need for it
through education of potential dog guardians. My dream is that we can get
images of responsible pet care in front of children so that they don't
view buying a puppy at a store and then chaining it in the back yard as a
reasonable thing to do.

Our dog training club uses therapy dogs as part of a club-sponsored
educational enrichment program. The children read the book "Rosie the
Therapy Dog", and discuss such concepts as selection of the dog,
genetics (breed), health and hygiene, training, and assignments. There
is a writing assignment, as well.... and each child does a short
presentation. It ends with a presentation by club members with their
therapy dogs, question and answer session and petting. This program was
brought to our club by a new member who had worked with it in
Louisville, KY. So far we have used it in elementary and middle
schools. The class itself is taught by a teacher. It's about 4-6
sessions.


Is this described in more detail somewhere? I'd appreciate taking a
look at it and presenting it to some of our club members.

We also have a few members doing the reading-to-a-dog reading program
for younger children.


Last summer we participated in a reading program at the local library.
http://lairds.org/Kyler/photos/disk0...g/image_viewer
It was such a success that we're organizing one to start next month.
It's amazing how kids want to read to the dogs. We sometimes have
spontaneous reading sessions when we're on a visit.
http://lairds.org/Kyler/photos/disk0...g/image_viewer

Reading to dogs still doesn't seem logical to me but it works and I'm
all for encouraging reading.

I wish we had the opportunity to do a more intensive program with older
kids with special needs, but the schools haven't asked, and we have
limited resources, like everybody else.


I am fortunate to be working with an outstanding teacher. I think that
is critical to getting something like this started and to making it
successful. The situation is almost ideal though; what could be more
fun than sharing my dog with a bunch of bright, kind, lively boys
celebrating a week of success? (If only I didn't have to drive so far
to get there...)

Thank you for the info. It's good to hear from others who are making
interesting visits. We went to the Delta Society conference years ago
and I miss that sharing of experiences and ideas.

--kyler
  #4  
Old May 14th 04, 05:08 AM
Jo Wolf
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Default

Think back to your days in school when you had to read aloud to the
class. It produced lots of stress until you worked up to a good degree
of proficiency, for your grade level. The kids who don't do well with
reading can be terrified of the giggles and whispered comments of
classmates, as well as correction by the teacher. Reading to the dog is
a non-judgemental experience.... thus less stressful, with a higher
likelihood of success....

I'll dig up the email address of our club member who brought the Rosie
program to us, and send it privately. May take a day or two....

Jo Wolf
Martinez, Georgia

 




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