It warms the heart to see the therapy dog surrounded by a group of children reading to him. And he is paying attention. This happens every week at PUSD elementary schools. The difference it can make in a child’s life is unmeasurable.
Pet Partners of Prescott started as a small group out of the PAWS program at YRMC in October 2018. It grew to more than 25 teams by this summer. The teams started working with the elementary schools and Granite Mountain social workers. Since that beginning, Pet Partners of Prescott has added all of Discovery Gardens Preschools, special education classes at the elementary schools, and the Read with Me program at Lincoln. We have been asked for teams at Prescott High School.
What can teams do for the children? In the word’s of one teacher, the visit teaches the children love, acceptance, joy and that the therapy animal has the ability to make them happy. The children are also learning that the dog can help other children to be calm and comfortable with other kids and being at school. Lastly, the visit is teaching these young children a very valuable life lesson that they can practice throughout their lifetime.
Working with the social workers has been invaluable. To see a child come to the social worker crying because of a situation they are experiencing in their life and see the dog crawl into their lap is amazing. The child calms and is able to talk about their feelings more freely. Many people experience this calmness, this feeling of relief when petting their own pet.
The Read with Me program is all about building self confidence. The child reads while petting the dog without interruptions. These interactions with therapy animals improve social skills among their peers. Children experience better focus and confidence while learning with therapy animals present and are more motivated to participate and maintain their motivation over time.
Pet Partners is about touching lives and improving health and wellbeing through the power of therapy animals. Pet Partner teams are highly trained and pass a rigorous evaluation. The team must reevaluate every two years to maintain registration. For more information please visit: https://PetPartnersofPrescott.weebly.com.