By A. Hosack, P. Berman, & K. Hecht
Oh No! I forgot the dog!!
Claire had fallen asleep after writing in her diary. She woke up two hours later, suddenly with a vision of a small dog in the mud room all alone. Claire ran out of her room raced down the stairs and rushed into the kitchen. She quickly opened the cabinet looking for the right size bowl, grab one and filled it with water and rushed into the mudroom. The slam of the kitchen door grabbed everyone else’s attention.
The little dog was laying down on the floor listless. She put the water next to its nose. It still didn’t get up. She picked the dog up and began to stroke it, at first, she got no response. Finally, it looked up at her, she held the bowl underneath its muzzle and it slowly began to lick up the water. It showed no response as first Mr., Mrs., and finally Davy rushed into the mudroom to find out what was going on.
“Mommy brought a dog home!” Davy said barely breathing-he was afraid if he breathed too loud Mrs. Carson would make the dog go away. “I found it as I was walking home,” Claire said slowly afraid to make too much noise and disrupt the dog from drinking. “It was in a neglected yard and I picked it up and walked up to the nearest house and knocked on the door. The owner told me that the family that owned the dog had moved away and left the dog behind,” Claire looked at the Carsons’ and said, “he looked neglected and hungry like I often felt when I was growing up. I couldn’t just leave him there to starve. I don’t mean to keep him just to find out from you what to do.”
What can I give a starving dog? Its stomach needs something on the gentle side. Hum.
“That dog needs something to eat,” Mrs. Carson said looking hard at Claire before going into the house to look for something. There was nothing in the kitchen for animals- taking care of Claire and Davy was hard enough. She didn’t want to keep this dog, but she wasn’t going to ignore a starving animal either. She picked up a box of Cheerios and stared at the ingredients.
Mrs. Carson returned to the mud room with another bowl filled with dry Cheerios. “I wasn’t sure what would be the best thing to try,” she said, “but I don’t think this will be too hard for the dog to digest.” The little dog showed no interest in the bowl. It was cringing against Claire. “I think the dog is scared of all the new people who are around. I had to stroke it for a while before it would even lap the water.”
I want this dog to like me. What should I do?
“Can I help the dog eat mommy?” Davy asked. “Why don’t you put a few pieces of cereal in your hand and just hold your hand quietly near his nose.” Davy filled his hand with cereal and shoved his hand in the dog’s muzzle. The dog whined and pushed itself closer into Claire’s body. “it’s a very scared dog Davy, try being even gentler. Don’t actually touch the dog, just let its little nose smell the goodies in the palm of your hand,” Claire whispered.
Davy tried again. He had a tight fist around his Cheerios. He opened his fingers slowly and reached close to but not touching the dog’s nose. The dog stared at the hand for a minute and then sniffed. A pink tongue darted out and grabbed the Cheerios out of Davy’s hand. Davy pulled his hand back quickly against his own body saying, “That felt tickly.” Davy looked at the palm of his hand and then smiled happily as he noticed the dog was chewing. “I fed him; did you see that Mrs. Carson I fed the dog Cheerios.”
“You are being very gentle and careful Davy,” Mr. Carson said, “this is the way you need to be around scared animals.” “Why would the little dog be scared of us?” Davy asked, “We wouldn’t hurt it?” Claire looked down in her lap and then up at Davy and said, “This little dog was left behind by the people who were supposed to care for it.” “Why would they do that mommy?” “I don’t know my Davy. (1-minute silence) The dog has no reason to think we will be good to it.”
The little dog has no reason to trust me. But, it is snuggling so close to me. It seems to feel safe with…me?
The little dog was so skinny that Claire could feel its heart beating against her stomach. Whenever Davy or the Carsons got close, it cringed against her. Could she have become important to this little dog?
Its asleep! It fell asleep in my arms…
Claire gently put the dog down on the floor and stood up. She stood staring at it. Mrs. Carson noticed the peaceful look on Claire’s face.
I don’t want a dog…but look at Claire’s face. Would an animal help her?
Mrs. Carson is right. It will take a lot of work to take care of a dog. But, dogs have been found to help many people with a variety of psychological and physical problems. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people can bring “service animals” with them into public places where normally animals aren’t allowed. A service animal has received extensive training to help a person manage their psychological or physical problems. They are highly trained animals. On the other hand, a new movement is trying to make it acceptable to bring animals, that may not have received training, but bring comfort to their owners. Like this little dog is bringing to Claire.
What do you think about allowing “comfort support animals” into public places? What are the benefits? Are there any negatives to allowing this?
To read more about how animals can help others, as well as how the term “comfort support animal” is being abused consider reading the following article. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2016/09/pet-aid