Dog Helps Kids Learn Life Skills

| April 6, 2015 | 0 Comments
Bobbi Hanna integrates Breezy into many activities to help kids physically and verbally.

Bobbi Hanna integrates Breezy into many activities to help kids physically and verbally.

Bobbi Hanna is a certified occupational therapy assistant in Point Loma. She partnered with colleague Kim Benson to form Kids on the Point OT, where they help children with autism, sensory processing disorders, generalized anxiety and learning disabilities. Recently, Hanna added another partner to their practice. Breezy is a facility dog from Canine Companions for Independence.

Many of Hanna’s clients struggle with non-verbal communication and social thinking. Breezy is a yellow Labrador/Golden Retriever cross who is always alert. Her wagging tail, expressive eyebrows, tilted head and perked ears are teaching opportunities for many children. The kids can see that Breezy is a really good listener. Hanna explains, I ask the kids, “Is she wearing her listening ears? What are her eyes doing? Is she looking and paying attention?””

Hanna also integrates Breezy into many activities to help kids physically and verbally. The kids are enthusiastic to give Breezy commands, but first they must learn the correct words and phrases by writing them down. Sometimes they describe what Breezy is doing by forming sentences. They play fetch with Breezy to practice hand-eye coordination and sequencing. They groom her and brush her teeth to instill the importance of self-care. They walk in figure eight patterns while Breezy wears a poster with instructions on her vest. There is no limit to how this special dog can be incorporated into therapies, and clients are more motivated and happy when she is.

Canine Companions trained Breezy in about 40 commands and diligently evaluated her temperament to ensure she was perfect for her job. All of the training Breezy received from Canine Companions gave her such a wonderful foundation, but it has gone way beyond that, says Bobbi. Often, our most memorable moments are unplanned. All of the kids have individual relationships with her. It’s perfect!”

To learn more about this program, visit cci.org or call 1-800-572-BARK.

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Category: Animals

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