Dog therapy for the little ones


CAPTION GOING TO THE DOGS: Occupational therapist Leslie Labuchagne, middle, sharing a laugh with Buhle Sekho, left, and Zara

Canaan Care Centre will soon have a new staff member who will be bringing along a different set of techniques to help care for children.

This takes the form of a “therapy dog” that will provide support to those children who are in need of emotional support and to provide much-needed comfort.

Centre manager Ellie Saayman said they would be receiving the dog from the Muddy Paws Mobile Pet Care.

“To see the children’s faces light up when they saw Zara [a visiting bullmastif], it was so gratifying to know immediately that we were doing the right thing,” Saayman said.
“ Unlike service dogs, such as guide dogs who need extensive training, requirements for emotional support dogs (ESD) are somewhat easier to train,” she said.

Saayman said the dog in puppy stage undergoes obedience training.

“Therapy dogs are commonplace in care centres and therapeutic settings similar to ours overseas. Canaan strives to offer the best care possible, and now that we have a suitable premises to take on such a big responsibility, we decided it was time to take Canaan to the next level,” Saayman said.

Saayman indicated the therapy dog would be a companion to the children, allowing them to get close and receive love and attention from a selfless animal.

Therapy dogs can help calm an upset child and be there unconditionally in times of need. They are also very perceptive and can pick it up when a child is scared, sad, or even about to have a seizure. “We haven’t received our trained puppy yet, but members of Muddy Paws Mobile Pet Care have been coming three days a week with their own trained dog to get the children and the staff ready. The children are absolutely in love,” Saayman said. .

“We chose a bullmastiff because their nature and temperament are more docile than that of a labrador, as a labrador tends to match the energy that is in the room. “

“But a Bullmastiff is more placid and can be easily trained to turn around and walk away if a child pulls their face or tail. They are the perfect breed for therapy,” said Saayman

Canaan Care Centre is a non-profit organisation that supports children with sever physical and learning disabiliteies aged from newborn to 16.

“Our goal is to provide an appropriate and therapeutic environment in which children with disabilities can develop the skills necessary to reach their full potential. We strive to offer a high standard of care and personalised approach to support work, which encourages growth and promotes independence,” Saayman said.


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