Animal assisted activities performed by Rainbow therapy dogs help children and adults with special needs develop or regain essential skills.
BY SHARON PFLAUMER
All photos provided by Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy, Inc.
ˇˇˇˇˇˇ ˇˇˇˇˇ ˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇ ˇˇ ˇˇˇ ˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇ ˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇ ˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇ ˇˇˇ tíˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇ ˇˇ ˇ ˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇ ˇ ˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇ meet speciˇ ˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇ ˇˇ ˇˇˇˇˇ ˇˇˇˇˇˇ ˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇ ˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇ ˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇ ˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇ ˇˇˇˇˇ
S A TEACHER OF SPECIAL NEEDS children by profession, Nancy Lind routinely performed many tasks for her students such as putting on their boots and mittens. Typically, the children at the beginning of line had taken their boots and mittens off by the time she got to the children at the end of it. So, she had to start all over again. As a long time dog owner and trainer involved with therapy dog work, one day, it occurred to her that she could motivate the children to do these things for themselves by making a game of it with her dog. After handing a mitten to a child for example, she told him her dog would pull it off if he put it on. Soon, the youngsters were
rushing to put on their mittens. The idea worked so well, it led Lind to devise other dog assisted activities to motivate her students to develop the skills needed to perform other self-help tasks. When those activities succeeded as well, she began to think about how the underlying concept could be used to help children on a larger scale. That, in turn, led her to found Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy, Inc. in 1987. Itís an organization where specially trained therapy dogs participate in programs that help develop or restore essential skills through the use of animal assisted activities. In addition to being its founder, Lind is the nonproˇt organizationís current President and Executive Director. THE DOG NEWS ANNUAL • 34
Animal Assisted Activities Since its inception, Rainbow has developed therapeutic programs for children and adults who have cognitive, behavioral and physical issues. At present, it serves the city of Chicago and the 5 surrounding counties with 270 therapy dog and handler teams who provide 155 different programs that reach more than 1000 children each month. Rainbow dog and handler teams visit 23 hospitals, 35 schools (with more than 100 classrooms seen) and pediatric residential facilities. In addition to the above, the organization offers therapy dog reading pro-