It has now been over six months that we have been meeting with Julian. While we bring in different dogs during our sessions, it is one dog that has captured his heart, Benny.
Benny is the dog no one wanted. He was considered unadoptable by four families before he was a year old. He was considered trouble, impossible to train or control and unworthy of love.
Julian is the boy so misunderstood. He has difficulty making connections to humans and it is so hard for him to look you in the eye.But they found each other and made that critical connection.
When we first met, Julian was deathly afraid of dogs. Over time that fear dissipated and he has come to respect and understand dogs. He knows he can control his own movements and behaviors with regard to the dogs and thus manage his own anxieties.He knows that dogs think differently and now understands canine ways of communicating.
He knows that dogs can love with a full heart, just as he can.Through his work with the Love Dogs, Julian has come to realize that when you look at someone, things change. Eye contact opens up the channel of communication and trust.
Just as with Benny. When he looked at me the very first day we met, I knew the true dog that was hiding inside.
Through his eyes, soulful, scared, hurting eyes.
And the first time Benny looked at Julian, something in Julian allowed him to look back.
Truly looks back into Benny’s eyes.
With communion.Something he found so hard to do with people.
Even people he loved.
Children on the autism spectrum often have a great difficulty connecting … making eye contact, listening, focusing, comprehending, responding, reacting, and communicating.But Julian has made huge inroads in all these skills by wanting to understand and interact with Benny.
When he calls Benny’s name and the dog turns to look into his eyes, even if he had just been resting and had his eyes closed, Julian feels the depth of the little dog’s love.
The closeness to another living being.
And perhaps this is the most remarkable accomplishment over these six months.