#KidsCommunicateTherapyDogs

As a young child Lauren witnessed the profound impact a therapy animal could have on another human’s life when her visually impaired Mom was paired with a seeing eye dog through Guiding Eyes For The Blind . This sparked a passion as she began her career in Speech Pathology and she knew that integrating canine assisted therapy interventions was a priority. She trained her first therapy dog Willie 25 years ago while in Graduate school. Lauren takes great pride in creating  novel, fun and engaging new ways of using therapy dogs to target speech, language, myofunctional and feeding goals. We are proud to have three amazing therapy dogs that are eager to participate in our sessions.

"A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull.

Give him your heart and he will give you his."

-John Grogan

Meet Our Therapy Pups!

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Jake

Jake is a 16 year old rescue that holds the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen award.  He received his certification through Therapy Dogs International almost 13 years ago. Jake  found a love for working as a therapy dog. Even as a senior pup he still loves to participate in sessions!

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Nuvola is a 3 year old Maltese that retired from the show dog world and found her calling in retirement as a therapy dog. Nuvola was born in Italy and her father holds numerous titles in the show ring. Nuvola means cloud in Italian and with her silky coat of hair and sweet disposition she is often compared to a cloud.   Nuvola has been specially trained to facilitate during manual therapy sessions.  She loves to assist as an extra set of paws on the respiratory diaphragm. 

Nuvola

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Benny is a 2 year old Maltese, a Canine Good Citizen and he is currently licensed by Bright and Beautiful therapy dogs. Benny comes from a long line of champion Maltese. Benny’s dad is GCHB DIRRAUS EVARISTO (Grand champion bronze ) Evaristo won 3rd place at Westminster in 2020 and he was number 2 Maltese for that year. His mom is Ch Alaïa of Angela White (Champion). Benny still has visits with both of his parents and loves making them proud with his work as a therapy dog. Benny loves performing tricks for patients and dancing. 

Benny

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Therapy dogs can play an important role in therapy and potentially have a huge positive impact on children.  Over the years Lauren  has witnessed the incredible influence therapy dogs can have on a child.  She always says, Therapy dogs make the best assistants!”  Dogs excel as therapeutic agents by alleviating stress and mental pressure. Therapy dogs increase overall emotional well being and can stimulate the mind. Petting a therapy dog helps relieve stress and provides emotional support.  The repetitive action produces oxytocin, a stress relieving hormone that helps battle stress and worry. (Griffin et al, 2018)

What are the benefits?

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Immediately upon entering  the therapy room patients are greeted with #therapydoglove. Jake, Benny, and Nuvola were trained to provide emotional support to our patients by interacting in many roles within therapy sessions.  Our pups love to be present for greetings, goodbyes, sharing a seat, helping a  patient build confidence, reading a book  and participation in various games and activities . An extra set of paws is often  appreciated by our patients during manual therapy treatment sessions. In the office having a therapy dog can be a reliable support for a patient giving them that extra confidence  to attempt new challenging tasks.

Our dogs have a soothing effect calming and down regulating the nervous system which in turn improves engagement, focus and learning capabilities and creates an optimal zone for learning  These small interactions set the tone for a therapy session which also increases positive attitudes towards learning.  Patients love coming to weekly sessions because they are immersed in an environment of comfort, support  and #therapydoglove.

 

The special bond between our therapy dogs and our patients acts as a catalyst, keeping children excited, engaged and actively participating during therapy sessions.  Follow us on instagram @kids_communicate_therapy to see the beauty of our amazing therapy dogs in action.   #CanineAssistedTherapyIsBeautiful

How do our therapy dogs
participate in sessions?

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“Canine assisted speech therapy is a valuable tool for enhancing the effect of speech therapy in children with developmental dysphasia”

 (Machova et al, 2018)

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What does research say?

Research has shown the spectacular benefits of therapy dogs in helping children with emotional, social and communication delays. Studies have been conducted in universities and on various education models and reading programs  demonstrating improved learning outcomes such as increased reading and writing skills and greater motivation. (Griffin et al, 2018) 

 

In one study, children diagnosed with Developmental Dysphasia performed better when they  received sessions of speech therapy enhanced with animal assisted therapy. The inclusion of dogs increased the chance of success. (Machova et al, 2018)

Children that struggle with speech delays such as Childhood Apraxia of Speech may experience stress and emotional issues that result in poor confidence and lack of motivation or willingness to experiment with their voices.Martin et al  investigated the influence of a trained dog on children’s heart rate and blood pressure while engaged in cognitive activities such as learning and reading.  (2002) The presence of a friendly furry companion was associated with a lower pulse rate and blood pressure. This made children more assertive and open for communication. The authors speculate that the therapy dog’s involvement in the learning process made the therapists less threatening to children enabling them to experience a positive atmosphere and a safe environment to verbalize. (Friedmann et al,1983) 

 

It is clear through the research and evidenced based practice for almost 25 years of utilizing therapy dogs that canines can have a profound positive impact.  

Remembering the dogs who left  pawprints in our hearts     

Bruno

In May of 2020 we lost our almost 18 year old Bruno. Bruno always knew when he was needed and when to back away. He was always able to read a child’s cues. He had endless patience and never flinched if a child got too excited. Bruno could always make children smile.

Read the beautiful piece Hoboken Girl wrote here. 

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Willie

Willie was the first therapy dog Lauren trained and had certified. Willie won a modeling contract with Petco at the release of Dr. Dolittle. He  loved  being a therapy dog for 12 years.  

References

Emma Ward Griffin, Patrick Klaiber, Hanne K Collins, Rhea L. Owens, Stanley Coren, Frances S. Chen Petting away pre exam stress: The effect of Therapy Dog sessions on student well being.  Stress and Health, 2018: DOI: 10. 1002/smi.2804

 

Kristyna Machova, Petra Kejdanova, Iva Bajtlerova, Radka Prochazkova, Ivona Svobodova &Kamal Mezian( 2018) Canine assisted Speech Therapy for children with communication impairments: A randomized Controlled Trial, Anthrozoos, 31:5, 587-598

 

Martin, F. , Famum J. (2002) Animal- assisted therapy for children with pervasive devevelopmental disorders.  Western Journal of Nursing Research, 24 (6) 657-670.  

Morrison, M.  Health Benefits of Animal Assisted Interventions .  Journal of Evidence based integrative medicine.  jan 2007 

 

Sams, M.J. , Fortney, E.V. Willenberg, S. (2006). Occupational therapy incorporating animals for children with Autism : A pilot investigation. American Occupational Therapy Association, 60 (3), 268-274.

Social Interaction and Blood Pressure influence of animal Companions August 1983 The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease Volume 171 Issue 8 - p 461-465.) Friedmann, Erika PH. D.; Katcher, Aaron H. M.D.; Thomas, Sue, PHD; Lynch, James J. PH D; Messent, Peter R. D. Phil

University of British Columbvia. “ “Sit, stay, heal: Study finds therapy dogs help stressed University students.” ScienceDaily. 12 March 2018.