Students in the Occupational and Physical Therapy class at Touro University were to give their final presentations to other students following their internships. One student had the experience of working with the Love Dogs in a children’s therapy center and wanted to demonstrate how therapy dogs can be utilized along with traditional therapies.
How could she possibly do this without the dogs there!
So for the first time Touro University permitted live dogs into class.
The Love Dogs brought the three dogs the students had worked with the most frequently along with one dog she had never met. Benny, Petey and Boise were able to demonstrate how we worked all year with one particular young boy, Julian. I brought many of the tools we used such as Benny’s pajamas to put on and off, Boise brought his new game, a variety of appropriate brushes, picture books, sense memory games.
The students explained the benefits of utilizing well trained handlers and animals in therapies with a range of clients.
The handlers were able to interject some areas of therapy work and the importance of selecting a program to partner with that has experience with the clients in question, complete knowledge of how to use the animals in a therapeutic setting and the right dog for the job. We discussed the importance of identifying the particular skill set and personality of the dog and assigning the right animal to the right client, and how that changes over time.
A child or adult frightened of dogs may begin with a very small dog like Petey and graduate to a dog like Cassidy so they start to experience dogs in the real world.
The students moved around the room in rotations, fifteen minutes each. So we gave six rounds of demonstrations. The dogs did beautifully and the students and faculty were engaged in learning how to work with therapy teams.
We met two other students who had observed Benny working in another setting, where they did their internship. So it was like seeing old friends in the room.
It is important for students who may incorporate alternate therapies into their work to see firsthand what it entails, learn how to partner with outside volunteers, how to assess which client could benefit and be able to work in close collaboration with the handler to create unique, customized protocols for each client.
We all had a fabulous day at Touro and hope to be invited back.