How could they possibly help someone learn a skill that they themselves can't grasp?

I stumbled on a news story that turn out to be the sweetest I read this year.  These “therapy dogs,” basically dogs that are trained to be focused and calm while somewhere unfamiliar, are sitting with kids while they read.  With the dogs at their feet the kids stay on task, but don’t feel like anyone is nagging them or judging them (because no one is).

How does it work?  It just does.

I love dogs.  Don’t need to be shy about that disclaimer.  What’s amazing about dogs is that their “neutral” is happy.  Waldo, my dog, almost always wears an expression that says “This is awesome. What are we doing next?”

I was at the dog park the other day and a woman was throwing a ball for her yorkshire terrier.  When she stopped for a minute to talk to me, the yorkie would yip at her until she threw it again.  The little dog would run a quick circle no bigger than the length of his tiny body, full speed, while he darted after the ball.  Showing off, like a figure skater.  Watching him bound around was enthralling for me, amusing for her.  She shook her head and said “I wish I was excited about anything as my dog is about this stupid ball.”  While their neutral is happy, our neutral is bored.

Waldo’s not much of a fetch dog, but with little warning he’ll rediscover a chew toy or hone in on a stick on the ground.  He’ll dive for it, then prance around proudly, like this is the best day of his life.  Somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I think I want to be around dogs because I think this will rub off on me.

Maybe it’s working, because I feel like I’m walking a little lighter after finding this sweet article.  This is awesome. What are we doing next?


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