Papu, an Adult Day Services client, plays peek-a-boo with Lula, a small Pomeranian pet therapy dog, as she happily sits on his wheelchair lap tray. Through a partnership with Pets Helping People, pet therapy has become an enjoyable and meaningful time for Curative’s clients with disabilities or limiting conditions like Papu. Initially, Papu was reluctant to have Lula near him. He used to cover his face to “hide” from the dog. After routinely being introduced to Lula and her handler, Janine, Papu let the dog sit on his wheelchair tray, but he was still reluctant to pet the dog. As time progressed, he agreed to let Lula give him kisses on his hand. He slowly turned “hiding” from the dog into a game of peek-a-boo where he covers his face with his hands and waits for Lula to find him. When Papu pulls his hands down from his face, he is always wearing a beaming smile and laughing. While Papu played games with Lula, he became comfortable with allowing her to brush up against the back of his hand. He then progressed to petting Lula with a closed fist, and recently has begun to pet Lula with an open hand. Papu and Lula have created a special bond through their visits. Over the course of a few years, Papu has received many benefits from Pets Helping People. Pet therapy offers a number of sensory stimulations, including touching the dog’s fur and feeling her wet nose. Papu and other Curative clients increase self-esteem and self-worth through their interactions with dogs, like Lula.
[pullquote4 quotes=”true” align=”center”]The smiles Lula and other therapy dogs provide to our clients are endless and heartwarming. The ability to feel the love and affection of the dogs is something few of our clients would have an opportunity to do without our Pets Helping People volunteer teams. We look forward to our continued partnership with thousands of more smiles to come.
–Tony Arsiniega, Adult Day Services.[/pullquote4]