Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Dogs that make a difference edited by Saskia Adams

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes and for thoudands of years they have worked alongside mankind in a varirty of roles - from herding, to searching, to guarding.  In more recent decades 'mans best friend' has found a place guiding the blind, alerting the deaf, and supporting people with mobility - and they have also found a place as therapy animals.  In Australia teams from Delta therapy dogs visit rest homes, aged care facilities, hospitals, psychiatric facilities, and help children in schools and libraries with their reading.  

This touching and heartwarming book is brimming with personal stories from Delta volunteers, marking the small (and not so small) differences their therapy dogs have made in the lives of people going through the challenges of illness or the slow decline of old age.  There are stories that will make you tear up, while others will make you smile.  In hospitals the dogs can make a real difference for children facing challenigng and painful medical procedures, easing the pain by providing a distraction and company.  In aged care they light the spark for dementia residents who may have forgotten many things but will always remember the day that their four footed friend comes to visit.  Each dog is special in their own way, and each partnership experiences the joy of volunteering together in a different way - but they are all amazing partnerships.

I volunteer with a therapy pets programme in New Zealand and many of the stories that I read in Dogs that make a difference sound achingly familiar because I know volunteers who have had the same experience - or I have experienced similar events with my own dogs.  There is the story of the dog that developed a special relationship with a resident who passed away, and the dog then refused to enter that room again (in Australia the dog became distressed and had to be removed from the room).  There is the child who was terrified of dogs but learned to overcome that fear - I had the same experience with a child at the school I visit where at first he was in the toilets crying and afraid to come to class, and by the end of the year he was willing to not only be near Houdini but also willing to sit with and cuddle him.  

There are amazing stories to discover here and if you are interested in animal assisted therapy then this book is a great place to start if you want to learn what it is really like.

If you would like to read more books about working dogs try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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