Kaiden was afraid of dogs. For several months he has been working with Benny, a small poodle, to overcome this fear and work on many other challenges. Kaiden has met a larger dog once but just for a few minutes.
This week Ginger was invited back for the whole hour session and the moment Kaiden saw Ginger, he recoiled with fear. The face we have come to know was there – scrunched up eyes and lips and he was shaking.
Then he realized it was Ginger, a dog he had met before. But Ginger was not to come too close.
If Ginger got close, Kaiden scrunched up again!
But no screaming.
“Kaiden, use your words,” said his therapist. “Tell Ginger if she is too close.”
“Too close Ginger,” Said the tiny voice.
And Ginger moved away.
Throughout the session Ginger was able to inch closer and closer and Kaiden was able to tolerate her. He was able to get close enough to brush her and pet her.
He was able to give her a treat.
He was able to take the second leash and walk Ginger. He even walked in front of her, turning his back on her.
When you work with the same child over time as an animal therapy team, you understand the value of small steps. But today was a huge step.
From fear to friends in the course of just one hour.