Homer Does Therapy Work
May 1993, AMCA Newsletter
BILLIE STEWART 3920 HWY 192 SOMERSET. KY 42501
"One benefit that endears therapy dogs to facilities is increased cooperation between staff and the people they take care of. This happens partly because of improved morale and other factors. But one way you as a handler can facilitate it is through your manner when working the dog. If you lovingly elicit good behavior from your dog instead of demanding it, you remind the staff how to deal with people. You aren't teaching them, since they already know how to treat people, but you make it easier to remember on difficult days. At the same time, your cooperative dog sets an example that many people will follow." Just having read THERAPY DOGS by Kathy Diamond Davis from which the above quote was taken, a most wonderful letter came in the mail about "HOMER". It warmed my heart and I want all of you to experience it so here it is as written by Cindy."I would like to let you know about the special work our Malamute "HOMER", Hill Frost Northr'n DrearnTyme (SIZZLE x TY) is doing through the Animal Welfare Society's Pet-a-Pet program. He recently received his Therapy Dog accreditation, and has been working the past year bringing smiles and joy to the severely handicapped and autistic children at Keith Bovenschen School in Macomb County, Michigan.HOMER has an outgoing, happy temperament, and like most Malamutes, is verbally expressive. He adores all children and they love him. Children at the school range in age from preschoolers to young adults. Thursday mornings he is their favorite visitor. Though trained to basic obedience commands, it is more important that he be allowed to be intuitive and responsive to the children's attention. Learning disabled and autistic children gain from contact with therapy dogs through the attachments formed, the unconditional love expressed\and the outward focus and increased attention span. It has also been found some difficult children are more relaxed and easier to manage after a visit. On a visit he senses what each child needs, from a paw on the tray of a quadraplegic child, to a kiss and furry tail for a blind child to touch. On his own he has climbed into a chair next to a child in a high wheelchair to be reachable. He has made severely autistic children smile and children with speech impairments try hard to say his name. Even an inadvertent pull on his fur is cause for a kiss! When the other breeds get tired, that infinite Malamute stamina is still ready for one more hug. HOMER'S a natural therapy dog, and we think, pretty special! Hope you might find this an interesting inclusion in your AMCA Obedience Column. I would like to encourage other Mal owners with dogs of good temperament to try it - it's very rewarding!
Note: Homer is one of only 12 Malamutes certified by TDI (Therapy Dogs, Inc.) at the time of this writing. He is no longer active due to his age. If you think your Malamute might enjoy therapy work you may want to contact Dr. Paws in Michigan or Therapy Dogs, Inc. out of Cheyenne, Wyoming for more information.