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Therapy Dog Heels, Drools -- and Heals -- in Kids' Shelter / Dog Is Troubled Kid's Friend

Animals  (tags: therapy dogs, companionanimals, children, children )

- 3947 days ago -
At Casa Pacifica, a Ventura County oasis for abused, neglected and emotionally disturbed children, patience and calm aren't just virtues; they're job requirements. Archie has worked at the leafy campus in Camarillo for two years, and he doesn't flinch

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Larry Sheehy (38)
Sunday July 29, 2007, 11:09 am
The sweet dog in the article pic:

Hi! My name is Archie! Well, when I get into trouble, my name is Archibald Razzmatazz. But my friends call me Archie. I am a very lucky dog because I have a huge family who loves me. My family lives at Casa Pacifica in Camarillo, California. My family includes a LOT of kids, who I love so much!

I have a really important job in my family. I am in charge of helping my kids feel better. Sometimes, they have a bad day because their other families haven't been very nice to them. A lot of the kids talk to me about it because I am a very good listener and I never interrupt, except to lick their faces sometimes. They love that and it makes them laugh.

Some of my kids have never had a dog before and they don't know how to play with me. Some of them think I like having their fingers in my nose or my ears or they pull my tail. I don't mind because I am pretty big and I can take it. But, they learn that I'd rather have them pet my head or scratch my belly!

Mostly, the kids just like having me around. They say it makes them happy. They know that I am their dog and I love them very much, no matter what they do.

Some kids spend a lot more time with me than others, and I have told my assistant about them. She's written about some of these kids on my website and you should read their stories. Even though some of them don't live at Casa Pacifica anymore, I still love them! Sometimes, they come to visit me and that makes me so happy!

Larry Sheehy (38)
Sunday July 29, 2007, 11:17 am
Therapeutic value of pet companions rests on solid scientific ground
Mary Engel, Los Angeles Times
Sunday, July 29, 2007

"A small pet animal is often an excellent companion for the sick," wrote Florence Nightingale in 1859, but it was not until a century later that scientists began documenting that claim.

Clinical psychologist Boris Levinson of New York's Yeshiva University wrote about pet-oriented child psychotherapy in the 1950s after finding that disturbed and withdrawn children opened up to him when his dog, Jingles, was in the room. Since the 1980s, researchers have documented the benefits that canine visitors bring to children and adults with depression, autism, hyperactivity disorders, heart failure and Alzheimer's disease.

In what experts in the field call animal-assisted therapy, a pet owner works with a professional therapist to help a patient meet specific goals such as stretching, walking. Animal-assisted activities are more casual visits to nursing homes or hospitals, where patients pet or hug the animals, or watch them perform tricks.

Dogs, including mixed breeds and rescues, are the most commonly used pets. They must be well-behaved, know basic commands, like people and have a gentle temperament.

Several nonprofit groups train dogs and organize visits.

One of the oldest is the Seattle-based Delta Society ( Delta-licensed instructors train and register pet-partner teams throughout the country; the Web site lists contacts for each state. A Los Angeles-based group, Love on 4 Paws (, has about 80 volunteer-pet teams who visit special education classrooms, nursing homes, Children's Hospital Los Angeles and Shriners Hospitals for Children, Los Angeles.

J S (0)
Sunday July 29, 2007, 11:23 am
They truly are the most gentle and lovable dogs. One should feel honored to know a newfie.
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