Dogs That Mend and Motivate: Damiyah’s Journey
Tony Stewart readily agrees and understands that dogs have a healing power. Lots of it.
Each time Tony visits a Grant Partner organization utilizing therapy dogs in situations of physical or emotional challenge, he witnesses the dogs’ power to heal as he watches the dogs gently encourage children, adults and families.
For 20 years, Hand in Paw Therapy Teams have been doing just that – gently mending and motivating children at the Children's on 3rd Outpatient Center located at the Children's of Alabama's Physical Therapy & Occupational Therapy Clinic.
"It's very difficult for a child to be motivated, to actually go through the therapy,” says Angi Griffin, Outpatient Center Coordinator. “It's hard. But it's also rewarding for them, when they see that success, when they're able to do it for the first time. And it's very rewarding for the parents as well, when they see their child be able to do something like walk for the first time."
Damiyah Hudson came into the world early at 25 weeks. She was small, weighing just 15 ounces. Her first three months were spent in the neonatal intensive care unit. Her journey to health led her to Children's on 3rd Outpatient Center. It was there that she was first introduced to Hand in Paw Therapy Teams.
Paw Power in Action
"We love these therapy dogs,” says Adam Knott, Physical Therapist. “Our only request is that we have them more often. The dogs, the handlers - it's amazing. The Hand in Paw dogs come here during the peak hours of our big programs, where we're having kids multiple hours at a time, and we're having gyms full of kids. What we're trying to do when we're thinking about those programs in general is pairing kids and therapists in a way that they stay motivated. But then, when the dogs come in, we are saving specific tasks for the kids with the dogs.”
The Hand in Paw dogs come here during the peak hours of our big programs, where we're having kids multiple hours at a time, and we're having gyms full of kids. What we're trying to do when we're thinking about those programs in general is pairing kids and therapists in a way that they stay motivated. But then, when the dogs come in, we are saving specific tasks for the kids with the dogs."ut stay for the art!" Certified Child Life Specialist Amy Fisher says, "Arts For Life really sets
the tone for our clinic. Providing fun, age-appropriate, and educational art activities, for kids to inspire their creativity in a safe space where things can often feel so scary. I find Arts For Life absolutely necessary. It brings so much joy, safety, and creativity to our patients.”
Teresa Hudson, Damiyah's mother, is delighted with how Hand In Paw Therapy Teams have helped her daughter progress. "Just seeing how far she's come, from even six months – once Hand in Paw came in, and she was so excited about the dogs, she walked a full hall length! The next time they came, she walked TWO hall lengths, and it just kept going until she got further and further," says Teresa.
Damiyah continues to reach new goals consistently with Hand in Paw by her side.
To The Right: Hand in Paw volunteer handler Georgie Moseley sees the benefits of the program unfold before her every time she and her dog Stevie visit. "When I first started doing this with Stevie, I was so amazed at what he could do,” says Georgie.
“I mean, I knew he was a great dog, but I remember thinking on the drive home - he was laying on the seat next to me, and I thought, 'Wow. Do you have any idea how much you've blessed people today?’"
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