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Canine Companion: Dogs Help People With Special Needs

Hey, guys. This week we are going to dive into a topic I have never discussed before. I want to talk a bit about dogs and helping people with special needs. Some of you know, and some of you may not, that my younger sister is in a group home. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age. She can walk anywhere she wants, with some level of difficulty. She can talk your ear off, and she lives a relatively normal life there.

There are times she becomes frustrated, though. There are times she cannot calm herself down. She may be overwhelmed. Sometimes she is in pain. She has had numerous surgeries leaving behind significant scar tissue that presses on nerve endings, and she has several other health diagnoses.

Can you imagine how much a dog could help her? Can you imagine how beneficial a dog would be to all people with special needs?

Benefits of Dogs

Research has shown people with special needs and/or those with health conditions are often more upbeat with a dog than people without a dog. There may have been a bad day, a bad hour, or even a bad few minutes, but at the end of the day, they have something to look forward to; a dog who loves unconditionally.

When a relationship is built with a dog, research has also found special needs children and adults to be more interactive and social. They want to talk more. They want to explore and be adventurous. They want to be a part of as much as they can.

To those of you who have anxiety, depression, a disorder, a condition, etc., don’t you feel better having a companion by your side who is always there for you? I know there are millions of people who do.

Setting up a Program

If you have ever been to a group home, you may notice they are incredibly busy, especially in homes that care for people with high needs. There’s also an issue with the budget. How can the organization afford to care for a dog for each group home? It’s not feasible.

That’s why we potentially could advocate for and develop a volunteer program to bring dogs into these group homes to bring love and life to everyone they touch. There are already some programs like this, but we need more. Of course, they would likely need to be grant-funded, but think of how much this may help people. I know personally, my sister would absolutely love to have a dog she could sit and watch a movie with.

Of course, this is just in the beginning stages of planning. We’re still in the ‘brainstorm’ phase. But I would love for you to share your ideas, comments, concerns, about this idea.

Until next time.

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