Monday, March 13, 2006

Some examples of AAT

There are many other types of AAT. In a London Hospital they have been testing the advantage of animals in terminally ill children. The children in the animal program showed much improvement and tremendous happiness. The children in the different playgroups did not do as well. The animals are brought in a few days a week, mainly rabbits, chinchillas, birds and the like. First you must be sure the child has no allergies and that the animals are, of course, completely ‘bathed’ and cleaned. The program has been going for many years and has had great success. The organization is called CHATA. The benefits of this long term project have been being studied by the medical profession.
Taking cats and dogs to retirement homes has also been a success. The patients cuddle and stroke the animals, those that are able to can take them for walks (and get exercise too) and it is something for them to look forward to. Stroking an animal, especially with long hair, has proven to help arthritis and other pain from bone and muscle difficulties. They also get to make new friends with the animal handlers.
Some prisons now take on dog training and horse training both as therapy for the inmates and also preparing the animals to go out in the world and help others. In some prisons the animals are trained for certain tasks, like a Seeing Eye Dog’s first year before it starts its official training, others take dogs from the pound and train them to be suitable for adoption. Most of the horses are run down; poor diet, overworked etc. The prisoners bring them back to a healthy usable state. This program helps both the inmate and the animal, not to mention the person who receives the animal.
A pet for a child can achieve many things. First the child has to want an animal, then the type of animal depends on your living conditions, if you live in the city a small animal is best, in the country anything goes. The child must take care of the animal in order to learn responsibility and caring for others. It is also a good way to teach hygiene. If you are dirty then no one wants to be around you just as if an animal is dirty you don’t want to be around it. Because the animal has no prejudice and hold no grudge it makes a perfect counsellor and companion.
Dogs also help find missing people, drugs and explosives. Each job takes a special kind of dog and a very knowledgeable handler. I was always told that the drug dogs were made addicts to make them find the drugs. But this is not the case. When I went through my dog training and got my degree I was able to observe dogs being trained for all of these tasks including attack. I do not know about other places but the drug dogs have a toy which is usually a towel with a knot in it. Playing with it was their reward for their work. In the beginning the knot had some smell of the drug in it so they associated the smell with the play and reward. Later the drug smell was removed and the reward for finding drugs in suitcases and such was a good session of tug and war and other games with the towel. It was the toy they wanted; they just learned it had a special smell. No dogs were ever given drugs. Search dogs must have a very keen sense of smell. They start by smelling an object of the persons; in the beginning it is the handler. Then they start a game of hide and seek. The handler hides in many places leaving his scent around and then he hides in a hard to find place. Another handler lets the dog smell the object and then tells him to find.
These, then, are just a few examples of how useful animals can be in human society.
They now have dogs for diabetics and to help teach reading to children with learning disorders. These dogs should not be given food as a reward they should always have affection or play time. One of the scent tests that most of these dogs have to pass is the hot dog test. That is where hot dogs are put in the path of the object or person they are looking for. The dog must not even stop to smell the hot dos it must continue looking for its objective. Guide dogs must also pass a type of hot dog test because they may never stray from their work. Depending on the type of work that the dogs due makes the difference in how the dogs are chosen. Some groups like to breed and raise their own breed of dog, possibly having it stay in a foster home for the first year to help save on the cost of raising the animals. These foster dogs must attend a weekly training course and their progress is constantly monitored. Dogs like hearing dogs are all dogs under the age of two from dog pounds. This serves a double purpose; it helps find great homes for stray and abandoned pets while at the same time they become the ears of a deaf person. The dogs are selected then taken to the center. Once there, they go through basic obedience training, if they pass they go on to phase two, if they don’t they go back to the pound but at least they were given a chance. Other dogs that most people don’t think of are pure bred dogs that aren’t show quality. I have been donated some of them in the past and have one now and they have been fantastic also giving them a chance to have a happy useful life.

Updated: November 2010

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