Monday, June 11, 2012

Love is all they need

It was my last session. We had almost finished our short pilot program at a center for children who have been on the wrong side of the law. The children were told that I would be meeting them for the last time and they could share what ever they wanted. The children were so overwhelmed by the thought that I would not be coming to meet them next Saturday, that they just wanted to hug me and sit besides me. They said that I gave them a reason to be good again. Many others who came to so call 'correct' them would just scold them and expect them to be 'normal' or 'well behaved'. But with me they could be their own selves, with out pretending that they were tough and could face any danger of living on the streets or that there really is a thrill in stealing. With me they were able to get in touch with the child with in them again, the innocent child who just wants love and attention. For me and my team; therapy dog Coco, his handler Atul, my handler Aakash and volunteer Bansari this was a very touching moment. We were able to reach out and touch the hearts of these children in just 10 visits. They were probably waiting for some one to see them as children who were lost and in need of love, rather than being labeled as'delinquents'

At a different time in Bangalore, our therapy dog Simba was comforting those who were really old. Those who could not remember their name - those who would look forward for a visit from their family who would never visit. Simba give them a reason to talk, a reason to feel good about themselves and to see that they were still capable of being loved. The ones who would not even look at a new person or move from their bed, would come up to Simba and say ' lets play ball'! What made them get up from their beds? What made them take an effort to talk, remember, socialize, move, play? It is just the dog or the unconditional acceptance that the dog showed. 'I love you for who you are, just the way you are'

Another such place where our Therapy dogs visit is a 'label free' zone. Where children with any kind of ability / different ability can come and play. Its a place called Bal Kalyan Sanstha. A recreational center in Pune for children with special needs. Fully equipped with a sensory garden, a low vision center, textured walls with painting and braille and a special swimming pool. Therapy dog Rex and his team of therapy animals like rabbits, fish and gees at the center give the children an equal chance to play and be loved. Children on wheelchairs and crutches throw the ball to Rex and run with him. Children who cannot see, hug him and feel the same love that Rex has for other 'normal kids' Children who cannot hear or talk can communicate with Rex because they do not need words to express their feelings to Rex.

Being a therapy dog, I understand that these children just want a chance to be love for who they really are. Is it so difficult for all of us, to just see them for the wonderful beings that they are and not label them as 'disabled'? Think about it.

Aren’t I Lucky ..?

The true story of an Indie therapy dog                         I was so tired of living on the street, eating from dustbins and lo...