A significant part of what Love Dog Adventures animal therapy program provides for the community is education. Education about caring for pets, choosing the right pet for your family, and training your pet.
But perhaps one of the most important lessons that we hope the children take with them for their lifetime is how important it is to be gentle with your pet.
No pulling or tugging or teasing or harsh words.
Be gentle and kind and caring.
And one of the best ways we found to get this message across is to teach the children canine massage.
The children in the first grade classes we have adopted all receive their own Coco the Love Dog stuffed doll early in the year. We then ask them to bring in their Coco’s for the massage lesson.
One of our Love Dog handlers is a human and canine massage therapist so she leads the most exciting class for us. She demonstrates all the different techniques for massaging your pet on our favorite guest dog, Sugar the Stuffed Dog!
The children sit in circles around the real Love Dogs and then get to practice with the live dogs, who think this is just the best class ever!
We traditionally do this at the end of the school year so the children end the year with a fun, relaxing reminder of how to treat animals.
Marilyn begins with several songs describing how to handle animals and how to massage.
Then she shows the various ways to begin massaging the dogs, first with two fingers, then moving up to an open palm, working your way from shoulders to paws to tail and then to head. She shows the children how to be extra careful around a dog’s ears and mouth and every child in the room is quiet and paying close attention, learning what to do.
First they practice their strokes on their Coco dolls and then we work up to the real dog in each group.
This is one of my favorite sessions we offer and we have never seen a child not get it. They are sweet and kind and gentle with both the toy dogs and especially with the real dogs. Even those children who are sometimes a bit over excited in class, settle down and wait their turn to stroke the real dog and show what they learned.
Incorporating all these unique and fun classes into our Love Dog curriculum has been so successful, we are entering our sixth year with the same schools.
Love Dog Adventures is hosting a fun evening for Las Vegans to learn more about our program on Monday, May 18, which is National Therapy Animal Day. For more information about the free event, visit www.lovedogadventures.org and click on Events.