Wagging tails deliver therapy at Cloverdale School (slide show)
BY KELLI WARSHEFSKI
OU News Bureau
A wet nose and a wagging tail can deliver a special therapy all its own.
The people at Pet-A-Pet offer animal therapy to hospitals, nursing homes and schools in metro Detroit.
March 21, Pet-A-Pet volunteers went to Farmington Public Schools and visited Cloverdale School, which houses a program for severely impaired children. The students, ages 2½ to 26, are divided by age and disabilities into eight classrooms.
“A lot of the kids have sensory behaviors and require an excessive amount of stimulation,” said Lauren Krawec, an occupational therapist at Cloverdale for 12 years. “The dogs bring a very calming aspect to them.”
Cloverdale collaborates with parents and caregivers in creating a positive learning environment for students.
According to a Pet-A-Pet newsletter, the benefits of animal-facilitated therapy include: lowering blood pressure, relieving depression, providing sensory stimulation, facilitating conversation during and after visits, stimulating laughter, increasing morale, offering an outlet for emotional expression and providing a feeling of being loved and accepted.
Therapy dogs are required to be friendly and allow strangers to touch their ears, paws and tail. They must be able to walk on a leash without struggling, have a clean appearance and be non-aggressive towards other dogs. Signs for disqualification include excessive jumping and growling.
The Pet-A-Pet program began in 1986 with a handful of members and since then has grown to more than 300 volunteers. Pet-A-Pet members receive a red scarf, newsletters throughout the year and educate the public about the health benefits of the human-animal bond.
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