‘Something humans just can’t offer’
It’s no mystery that dogs are one of the most popular additions to any home, and can even be therapeutic.
Some Kings teachers are well aware of these facts, and are now using dogs in their classroom.
Last year, Kings Special Education teacher Junior Ili arranged for therapy dogs to visit KHS every Friday. These little bundles of fluffy joy bring smiles to the faces of countless students, especially the special education department kids. The organization that provides all of the unconditional puppy love is Therapy Pets of Greater Cincinnati. The dogs, and other animals, visit schools all around the Tri-State, as well as hospitals and special events.
Therapy Dogs of Cincinnati is a branch off of the non-profit organization Pet Partners. The main goal of their services is to encourage human and pet bonds, and validate the role of pets in human health. According to WebMD, by simply petting a dog or a cat, your heart rate will decrease. Humans long for and crave contact by touch to help make them feel better, and dogs offer coats softer than any human hair.
Therapy Dogs of Cincinnati was established in 2004, and now is obtaining nearly 200 volunteers, along with their furry friends. There are all types of dogs that are used for therapy, ranging from Pugs to Great Pyrenees. Chad Handorf, a KHS junior who gets to work with the dogs, said he loves thw weekly visits.
“I love Roo so much, he’s so small and soft and loves belly rubs,” Handorf explained.
Roo is a middle-aged Pug who smiles with his tongue hanging out. Although Roo is not at Kings every week, Handorf said he treasures Roo like his best friend. The 200 dogs that are in the organization take turns coming to Kings. Another popular dog at Kings is a Golden Retriever named Ted. Ted’s owner and handler, Chris Cataflu, has a fiery passion for pups as well as special needs children.
“Seeing all of the kids light up when they touch Ted is why I am involved in this organization. I haven’t seen a kid that doesn’t love Ted. He is truly a special dog.” Cataflu says.
To become a therapy dog, the top requirement is to have a gentle temperament with humans, especially children. Then, the dogs and their owner go through training and multiple tests. Any loving human who has a passion for puppy therapy can join. All therapy dogs are very gentle and loving. However, when kids start hugging them too hard or start to irritate the dogs with too much love, the owner intervenes and shows the kids how to pet the dogs more gently.
Ili, as well as all of the other special ed teachers, said he thoroughly enjoys watching the kids interact with the dogs.
“Dogs have something that humans just can’t offer,” Ili said. ”They excite all of the kids, whether or not the kids have special needs. There is a lot of emotion involved with our kids and the dogs, they joyfully comfort everyone emotionally and physically. These dogs have had such a positive impact on this department and we are all grateful for the opportunity to have this program at our school.”