Our Havs touching other people's lives
I've seen threads of a story or two of how a Hav has touched someone else in a special way, and I didn't want to limit the thread to certified therapy dogs only, so this thread is to share the stories of our dogs, touching other peoples lives.
So, here's my story from this week (Long):
Some of you know that I have a 1/2 hav, 1/2 shih tzu, Ollie, 3.5 yrs old, that is a certified therapy dog with TDI. before I even chose him, I was thinking about the academic applications of a well trained therapy dog, as I am a speech therapist in the public schools, currently at an elementary school, and my school site houses the severely autistic special day classes (SDC).
I'm doing summer school, and as a feature of some of our other SDC programs, speech therapists push in weekly to work on language skills. So I decided every wednesday Ollie would come and push into 8-10 SDCs in his day (1/2 hour sessions). This week would be Ollie's third classroom visit for summer school.
For those of you not familar with special education, a lot of my regular ed. colleagues think Ollie is a gimmick or just an excuse for me to bring my dog to school, seriously. unbelievable to me that any educator in the modern day could think like that. The greatest gift Ollie gives my students, or all the students, is spontaneous language, something to talk about.
So some of you know, Ollie does some academic tricks, like discrete trials (can differentiate pics and words with his nose), and 'math' a counting trick, the kids give him a math problem, 16-8, and he taps it out on my hand, and a host of other dog tricks. he's close to mastering his latest trick, 'play dead'.
play dead, the way I taught it, is I point my finger in the shape of a gun, and I say 'bang bang'. then Ollie for some reason, waves his paw in the air and proceeds to die by rolling on his back, paws to the sky, and tries not to move.
In one of the SDCs this summer, there are a pair of brothers, 8 yrs old, we'll call him Caine, and his little brother 6 yrs old, Abel, summer school is their first school experience, as the parents have kept them home, to home school them. they are sweet, but clearly developmentally delayed, a team or geneticists at Stanford are studying them to determine what genetic syndrome they may have, and are in the process of getting talk devices as they are difficult to understand and in general don't talk much.
Wednesday, with a class of 10 students, and in Caine and Abel's class, I'm sitting b/t the brothers, about ten minutes into the session, Abel, the little brother, does the american sign language sign for dog (which is right hand hits your hip and you snap your fingers as the hand comes off the hip), and he says 'bang bang!', smiles and looks at Ollie. The instructional aides were floored, he was clear, loud enough, and said it three more times. priceless, spontaneous language.
So of course I had to do the trick, and had Abel learn that we call the trick 'play dead'. and I let Abel say 'bang bang' to start the trick. he was so tickled. it was beyond cute.
Then today, Thursday, another little girl, Em, we'll call her, I passed her in the hallway, and says hi to me, and as we pass, she yells, "where's your doggie?' again very clear and she's usually very unintelligible.
days like these, remind me of why I do the job I do. I'm usually buried in paperwork and attorneys (yup, sue happy parents).
please share your stories.