Saturday, April 11, 2009

Animal Assisted Intervention and Education

Today at my studio, Stray Dog Adventures, we hosted the Animal Assisted Intervention and Education training. The training was a collaborative effort of 3 groups: Pet Haven, A Rotta Love Plus and The Lab of St. Paul Public Schools. What a beautiful morning to host an event that brought together 40+ people from our community who have a desire to learn more about how animals can help in the healing work with at-risk youth at The Lab.

We had some wonderful guest presenters including Jane Hunt of Partners for Violence Prevention who spoke about the work she has been doing for many years partnering with animals to help in the healing of wounded human spirits. Other speakers included Becky (a Delta Society therapy dog trainer) who spoke to us about the difference between animal assisted activities, animal assisted intervention and animal assisted therapy; Mary Tinucci, program coordinator, who described The Lab, its mission and the potential volunteer opportunities for CGC (Canine Good Citizens), therapy dogs and their humans, to work with at-risk youth at the Lab; Kellie Dillner (education coordinator for A Rotta Love) discussed how-to facilitate a group and commandments for handling dogs in a group; Karen (Paws for Peace) and her dog Julin shared specific stories of how she and Julin have worked with juvenile detention and have partnered with Jane Hunt of Partners for Violence Prevention; and Marilou (Pet Haven) shared how Ahnung has been volunteering and working with at-risk youth at The Lab.

I think what was most exciting about today was not only the huge turnout on a beautiful spring-like Saturday morning (when there were obviously a million other things one could do on a such a gorgeous morning!) but the bringing together of like-minded, kindred spirit, both at an individual level but also an organizational level. This was not only a tremendous opportunity for us to educate ourselves about Animal Assisted Intervention and education, but a chance for us to network with others in the community. The turnout was awesome and we hopefully will have a lot of new volunteers who will be signing up to help at-risk youth this fall at The Lab!

Ahnung was of course happy to welcome everyone into the studio. As we were setting up the space for the training this morning she did a fine job supervising us! A very special thanks to Kellie, education coordinator of A Rotta Love who did a phenomenal job in pulling so much of this together!

After everyone left, Ahnung got to hang out with her pal Riley (a foster dog with Pet Haven). Be sure to check out Ahnung's blog from today ... she posted photos of them with their bunny ears and would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter!

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