Man's Best Friend
June 20, 2012
For years now, Good Shepherd Center in Baltimore, Maryland has been going to the dogs! Literally! Every two weeks, members of National Capital Therapy Dogs (NCTD) bring their best friends to the Center so our young students can spend an hour learning all about the care of dogs including grooming, training and how much their furry friends love to be hugged.
Albert Schweitzer, the great humanitarian, once said, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” This quote is relevant because, for many of the young people at Good Shepherd Center, their light has temporarily gone out and it is the Center’s mission to rekindle the flame in these adolescents, to give them the courage and tools to rebuild and have successful lives.
Our friends at National Capital Therapy Dogs have proved that it isn’t just fellow human beings that can rekindle the light within these hurting and troubled adolescents. It is hard to describe the happy faces of the children as they wrap their arms around the dogs giving them long hugs or the blissful faces on the dogs as the students spend a good part of an hour lovingly brushing them. Staff has noted that the furry visitors have reduced anxiety and comforted lonely, hurting teens by encouraging them to talk and reach out. Good Shepherd Center’s participation in the NCTD Program has also helped with behavioral issues as children look forward to the biweekly visits.
National Capital Therapy Dogs, based in Washington, D.C. and established in 1990, is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization that provides animal-assisted therapy to medical and psychiatric patients, stroke and trauma clients, residents in facilities for the elderly, abused women and their children, homeless families and troubled teenagers. NCTD also has an active READ® (Reading Education Assistance Dogs®) program which encourages children to read to the dogs in order to improve their reading motivation, fluency and confidence. NCTD is now recognized as one of the top animal-assisted therapy organizations in the country. Good Shepherd Center is so grateful that these wonderful volunteers are willing to share these lovable dogs and help heal the children we serve!
If you know of an organization that would like to participate in a therapy dog program, have them log onto the American Kennel Club website for a comprehensive listing of therapy dog organizations throughout the United States at http://www.akc.org/akctherapydog/organizations.cfm.