Monday, August 31, 2009

The WonderDog!

SmallDaughter just finished her first week of the school year. She has attended a self contained Multiple Disability class for the past two years, and the WonderDog has attended with her. I have been very pleased with her teacher and the classroom assistants. They genuinely love her, and have her long-term best interests at heart, and have helped her achieve many physical and academic goals.

The week before school began, SmallDaughter's teacher called me. For the first time since SmallDaughter started in this class, they were getting new students, and one of them was scared of dogs. Teacher wanted to know if there was a 4 Paws protocol for introducing a child who was scared of dogs to a service dog.

I called Jeremy the head trainer at 4 Paws for Ability, and he gave me good advice, which I passed on to Teacher. On Saturday, she called me to report on how the week had gone (and having the teacher call me still makes me nervous that there are major problems!). She said “I want to thank you for letting us have the WonderDog. One of our new students has lots of emotional issues, and from the information in his file, we expected him to have between 3 and 6 major meltdowns every day, lasting up to half an hour each. This is the student who is scared of dogs, so I was really nervous for the first day of class.

SmallDaughter and WonderDog came into class and took their places (SD at the table, WD on his “place”) and the new student looked pretty alarmed, but then he went over and inspected every inch of WD—including opening his mouth to look inside it! I was a bit concerned, but WD was totally mellow. Whenever the student was getting ready to melt down, he told me ‘I pet dog’, and went over to WD and petted him three times—one, two, three, then said ‘I better now’, and returned to his place. We have not had one meltdown, and I know it is because of having the WonderDog in our classroom.”

“Also when we had a Police Officer come in to visit our classroom, he asked who had the Service Dog, BOTH of our new students claimed WD was theirs! When we walk down the hall, SD holds onto her handles and the boy who used to be afraid of dogs walks on WD's other side, holding onto his harness, while the other new student holds onto WonderDog's tail like a rudder! WD just loves all the attention!”

SD has settled into her classroom routine perfectly, and the only time she has had any issues at all, was when Teacher corrected one of the new students, and SD thought she had done something wrong!

Also, the new Superintendent stopped by their classroom, and WD behaved so perfectly that he totally won him over! Yay for 4 Paws and for the WonderDog who has made our lives SO MUCH BETTER!

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