Puppy in training to help children with learning disabilities and autism
AS part of a novel initiative to
provide support to young children with learning disabilities, health
professionals at Lancashire Care are welcoming a new member to their team: a
Shoodle called Ebony.
Ebony, who is 12 weeks old, is being trained to be a therapy dog by members of
the Learning Disability and Complex Needs Team at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation
Trust. Therapy dogs are particularly valuable in supporting language and
communication, reducing anxiety, and helping with depression, emotional
regulation, selective mutism and dog phobias.
Zoe Yurek, Senior Learning Disability and Complex Needs Practitioner at
Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said:- "We are excited by this new
addition to our team and we really hope to be creative with how Ebony provides
support. A friend and neighbour had a litter of puppies and when I would visit
her, I'd always be drawn to the same little puppy. No matter how stressed I was,
all my worries would just melt away after stroking Ebony for a few minutes. She
was the smallest of the litter, the runt, but to me she was simply adorable and
perfect. I have already got a dog, a Westie called Skye, so it wasn't my
intention to get another, but Ebony was just too irresistible. Then it suddenly
occurred to me that Ebony could be the new Therapy Dog for our team. She will
have some big paws to fill and I really hope she has a long career with us."
Tracey Hartley Smith, Team Leader for the Learning Disability and Complex Needs
Team, said:- "We all love a little dog and Ebony is just so irresistible.
There is an emerging evidence base to indicate that pet therapy is a low tech,
low cost therapy that improves mood and is meaningful to Hospital and community
patients. It is, therefore, an exciting development for our team which will be
implemented with full consideration of health and safety and with established
contracts between practitioners, the young people and their families and Ebony
Ebony is a Shoodle, whereby her mum is a Shih Tzu and her dad a Toy Poodle. The
team previously had a dog who was PAT (Pets As Therapy) certified and provided
valuable support to a young boy with autism to overcome his phobia of dogs,
which proved successful in helping him overcome the condition.