More on Casey

img_12241We’re over the moon about Casey, the Wonder Dog.  She really is just a fantastic addition to our family.   We always knew we’d have a family dog, but we were waiting for the ‘right time’.  When Mark was serving in Iraq, I was overwhelmingly pregnant with Will, Ben was a toddler not walking or even close, and we had just moved from our big yard house to a teeny yard house–that time–was *not* the right time.  Thank God for Aunt Patty and Uncle Jim who adopted our first pet, Max.  Here they all are visiting us on their spring break last week:  img_1135

Having Max stay with us confirmed how ready we were for another pet.  There’s so much to be gained in the way of learning and enrichment for the kids–taking care of another being, responsibility, respect, loyalty.  Max was a puppy when we adopted him from the shelter.  Training him was a lot of work.  We knew we didn’t have the kind of time needed to train a puppy this time around.  We had agreed to get an older dog, but not too old.  We wanted an active dog that would run and play, but would not have to pee every 10 minutes nor chew things that would make us unhappy.

I had also been doing some research on therapy dogs for children with autism.  It’s probably not much of a surprise to dog lovers, but early “research” is showing that there are more than physical needs fulfilled through interaction with a trained therapy pet.   This study is looking specifically at development of social interaction with the help of animals.

Solomon hypothesizes that interactions with well-trained therapy dogs—which are simple, predictable and very rewarding social partners—help autistic children practice social interaction and fill gaps in social behaviors that didn’t develop earlier in childhood. In the future, she hopes to study the results of adding animal therapy to existing clinical programs for people with autism.

“Dogs could be like a catalyst in a chemical reaction,” she said.

I liked that the article spoke in terms of remediation, a la RDI.   Going back for a ‘do-over’ is a simple way to think about it.  Could a dog help in our RDI efforts with Ben?  Who couldn’t use a catalyst?

Enter Casey.  The craisglist post proclaimed her “the poster child for the perfect family pet”.  After 3 days with her, we really cannot argue that claim.   We’ve witnessed great affection and “private” moments between both boys and Casey that are worth any cost of having her.  Already.  How cool is that?

Here are some photos of the boys doing some training work with Casey.

img_1229“Casey, come!”img_12301“Sit.”img_12281“Lie down.”

And then there’s Will’s technique…

img_1221“Casey, come and eat this yummy treat.”

img_12221“Lie down like me.”img_12261“Have another yummy treat.  Good girl.  She likes me!”

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2 Responses to More on Casey

  1. Kate Nicoll says:

    We also did research on the impact of the interaction of therapy dogs for children on the autism spectrum. Our findings were presented at the first International Conference on Applied Behavioral Analysis on Autism in Boston. At Soul Friends, we developed a 6 session program called, Come, Follow Me! where we provide 5 interactive social skills development sessions with children and trained therapy dogs – the first session is information gathering from parents where we identify individual goals for each child like, improve eye contact and body awareness. This pilot study demonstrated that with the interaction of a therapy dog and the use of clicker training children demonstrated increase eye contact with clinicians and increased body control.

    Kate Nicoll, LCSW
    founder, Soul Friends, Inc.

  2. Kathy says:

    Congrats on your new addition! She looks like she’s happy to be part of your family. I love all the new pictures. Keep blogging (like I should talk!). Happy birthdays, too!

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