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Update on "Dog Lessons"

1483 Views 9 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  shakerag
A few months ago I posted on a project Murray and I were taking on for our pet therapy organization. A mother of three Autistic brothers, ages 6, 8, and 12 had requested home visits so that her boys could learn about dogs and how to interact with them appropriately. We have been making visits since November.

The three boys, who previously tended to scream and run around when they were near any dog, have really made some progress:

They've learned how to greet a dog calmly instead of running up to him yelling in excitement. They've learned to ask permission of the owner of a dog being walked on a leash before petting. They've learned where on a dogs' body to pet. They've learned to be gentle and considerate of Murray- one of them always brings him a bowl of water sometime during the visit.

And Sunday was a huge step forward for the youngest. He's afraid of dogs in general, and even though he's started sitting next to Murray at times, he definitely has a long way to go. Sunday was a beautiful sunny day so we took Murray for a walk- none of them had ever walked a dog before- and they had a blast! The youngest was afraid at first, and was reluctant to take the leash when it was his turn- but after a little coaxing, he started smiling and laughing- he did a great job!

They asked questions the whole time- why does he sniff along the sidewalk? Why does he keep peeing? They were fascinated when I explained about marking: that instead of e-mail like humans have, dogs use 'p-mail' to leave messages for each other! They thought this was hilarious- Murray never had a more intrigued audience to his urination!

So anyway, that's how it's going-we're making progress, and I don't know who enjoys our visits more- me, Murray, or the boys!
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As I stated in our introduction we originally got Luke to start on therapy for my autistic son Trent. Trent could not even be on a same street as a dog, if one was walking on the sidewalk across the street he would try to hide behind me. If one got within 20 feet of him he would try to climb on top of my head. I figured we could work with him and over the next couple of years he would be de-sensitized to them.

It has worked faster and far better than we had any hope of. By the end of the summer I was out back grilling when I noticed Trent was throwing a ball for Luke to fetch. He would run away when Luke brought it back to him, but Luke soon learned if he dropped it about 5 feet away from him that Trent would toss the ball again.

Just last week I actually saw him petting Dixie, and the picture below says more than I could to describe the difference in him.

So I can not say enough, and thank you enough for your efforts. Even with all the publicity Autism gets it is still far from being understood or tolerated by the masses. All they need is a little time and patience from people willing to reach out to them instead of snickering at them. I am sure that a family that has 3 autistic children does not have the resources to deal with any dogs so I am she feels very blessed by your work with her sons.

Thank you.

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