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Animal-Assisted Therapy: Elizabeth Loved Oscar

In canine companionship, Health on March 3, 2012 at 2:07 am

Love is a game that two can play-and both can win.

The fact that Elizabeth loved Oscar might not sound like headline material, but for me it is. Elizabeth is my special granddaughter. She was born with mental retardation and life holds many challenges for her. One particularly frustrating challenge has been an absolute terror of dogs. Just the barking of a dog could send her screaming. It got so bad that Elizabeth would not go on walks in the neighborhood because of dogs behind fences. She was becoming more and more uncomfortable in the world.

A real breakthrough came the day she saw and held Oscar, a little longhaired, miniature [dachshund]. Weighing in at under two pounds, Elizabeth saw no threat in this tiny pup. She was delighted and we were
thrilled, so we gave Oscar to Elizabeth for her birthday. A few weeks later, our daughter Cindy Oates and her large golden retriever therapy dog, Emmitt, began working with Elizabeth in pet therapy. Cindy’s first goal was to get Elizabeth comfortable enough with Emmitt to touch him. This she accomplished in short order and Elizabeth is now comfortable around Emmitt and the Majority of other dogs as well.

The quality of Elizabeth’s life has improved considerably because of these two dogs, and she is not unique. All over the country, pets-and particularly dogs-are helping children, adults, and the elderly through pet therapy. Pet therapy is one of the fastest growing fields in America and the demand for dogs and adults to work with them far exceeds the supply. Today the objective of visits by trained therapy dogs in various hospital settings is to help patients do things they haven’t been able to do because of an accident, an addiction, or a trauma of some kind.

It’s true that others can give you pleasure, but happiness comes when you do things for other people. If your time permits, get involved in a pet therapy program. One reason a dog can be such a comfort when you’re feeling blue is that he doesn’t try to find out why.

A special thank you to ZigZiglar

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