Dogs are often a child’s best friend. Who can resist big dog eyes looking up at you, full of love, just waiting for you to love them back? When you are feeling a bit down, is there any better cure than a dog rubbing against your hand, wanting you to pet them?
Many dogs have an innate sense of just how to respond with children. In our therapy work, we often see the therapy dogs respond to a young or frightened child by going into a very calm down position. The dogs seem to just understand that this is what is needed. We also see the dogs “pick” the adult or child in the room that seems to need them the most. The one who is sad or depressed or upset in some way, the dog senses this and makes this individual their new ‘best friend’.
For the special needs child, the dog can serve in a therapeutic manner by serving as a social facilitator; as a symbolic vehicle for the expression of emotionally laden topics; as a focus of attention and as agents of de-arousal; as an object of attachment; as a source of social support; and as a living instrument for learning new skills, ways of thinking and behaving.
–Can Animals Help Humans Heal? University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, July 2004
About our special dogs
The Austin Dog Alliance, Special Dogs for Special Needs program is designed to provide dogs with solid temperaments and training to families who have a special needs child or adult in the home.
A Special Dog has a solid temperament that is characterized as
- friendly and confident in a wide variety of situations with people of all types and abilities
- completely non-aggressive
- controllable, predictable and reliable
- actively seeks human interactions
Once a dog is selected based on its temperament, the dog is trained to demonstrate the following cues on a consistent basis:
- stay for 30 seconds
- wait at door
- leave it
- drop it
- leash walking
- polite human greetings
- settle on a mat or in a crate
The dogs are also house and crate trained.
Our special dogs are healthy and have received the following vet care:
- up to date on rabies, DHPP and bordetella vaccinations
- spayed or neutered
- heartworm negative
Adopting a special dog
The next step is to have the children meet the dog and to begin a new family chapter: life with the unconditional and non-judgemental love of a dog.
After two weeks, the adoption family will meet at the Austin Dog Alliance Training Center for a private lesson with one of our trainers. Any issues or problems that have surfaced will be addressed.
Phone consultations with a trainer will be provided free for one year.
The adoption fee for our Special Dogs is $2500.