Pets have a way of bringing joy to our hearts and homes. They show us unconditional loyalty and love. Pets are entertaining as well as healing. Pets may protect us or work with us. They ask very little of us – when we ask so much from them. The increase of using animals for therapy, especially dogs, cats and horses has grown tremendously in schools, hospitals, nursing homes and prisons. Our Sammy, with his perpetual wagging tail was therapeutic to those who encountered him. [always]
** Enter John T. . John T.’s diagnosis is a disorder of central nervous system, adjustment disorder with mixed emotional features. With that comes fine motor developmental delay, developmental coordination disorder and mixed expressive/receptive language disorder. This beautiful boy had an encounter with our Sammy this past year. [see blog post “Ryzin’s Perfect Light”] **
John T. never owned a pet until now. His mother sent me a message a month ago inquiring about our cat. Sarah and her husband were talking about getting a pet for their family. After sending information to Sarah on local shelters and cat rescues, they located Margo. Margo is a Maine Coon cat. At four months old, Margo came into John T.’s life. And I think it is safe to say, his life has changed in such a wonderful – amazing – colorful – therapeutic way! John T., has OT’s and PT’s. Teachers and support staff. He has two amazing parents. And now, John T., has Margo! While Apple and I visited with John T., his beautiful mommy Sarah, and Margo….I was able to witness a little boy with a voice. His giggle alone made me melt. John T.’s excitement and joy with this ball of fur and her own wide-eyed interaction was absolutely beautiful to watch. There is no doubt in my mind, Margo was created for John T. . I don’t want to bring science or research into my writing. But over the years of watching my own Golden Retriever become a “pillow of comfort” for those who struggled with reading – begin to read slowly and clearly for the first time – well, that just supported my own opinion and belief.
I don’t know what is taking place in John T. to overcome the barriers of verbalizing, making [his own] complete sentences or expressing emotion when he is interacting with Margo. I don’t know what is taking place in Margo – that she brings out the ability for John T., to express his emotions or to verbalize his joy. But I do know that when you watch this little boy gently and lovingly embrace his cat, his very own Margo….nothing else matters at that moment.
Sarah recently informed me that John T., and Margo have become inseparable. Margo follows John T. around the house, waits for him to get home from school, and as you can see from the photo above – naps with her little human. I look forward to watching their bond grow. Thank you Sarah for giving me this opportunity! And thank you for allowing me to write about your son and his cat. Or should I say, Margo and her little human. [hugs]
Sprout Riding Center is a therapeutic and educational riding stable in Northern Virginia. I had the opportunity to visit Sprout Center, while working with students in a Community Based Instructional (CBI) program. Two students who were about to “age out” of the program, were in the process of entering a work volunteer training program at Sprout Center. Both students were never around animals. And now, they were going to learn about horses! While learning how to water the horses, muck their stalls and at times gather their feed buckets – these students found their voices, their smiles and their confidence. The final week came for me to complete evaluations on both students. Anxiety was limited. The struggle of any social interaction was clearly placed aside. Smiles and eye contact given. With the help of two ponies – two young adults with disabilities that held them back from society – became two determined members of the community.
Apple and I had the opportunity to meet Capt. Luis Montalvan and his service dog Tuesday. This all started when my husband gave me this book … Until Tuesday. A week and a box of tissues later – I knew I wanted to contact Luis and find a way to help others with PTSD. [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] Luis was kind enough to correspond with me via e-mail. Two years later, I got to shake Luis Mantalvan’s hand and hug Tuesday.
** Now as my family waits for our newest addition to arrive this winter – I will begin my own course work for animal assisted therapy. My vision for our newest member of the clan will work by my side to hopefully ease the pain of post surgery, comfort a patient and bring a little extra sunshine to those we visit at our local Veterans Hospitals and schools.
John T., it was you sweetie who inspired me to do so.
Special thanks to John T.’s family, and Margo.
Capt. Luis Montalvan and Tuesday.
Sprout Riding Center – Aldie VA
And, my Sammy.