Overcoming Fear

| September 17, 2014 | 0 Comments
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Margot Hunjan, Dudley and Paul

Photo provided by Pet Partners

Reprinted with permission from Pet Partners Interactions Magazine Summer 2014

Margot Hunjan and Dudley of Larkspur, Colorado

Flat Coated Retriever Dudley and his handler Margot Hunjan visit mildly to severely disabled children in a special classroom at Ray Kilmer Elementary School, just east of Monument, Colorado. A few of the young people are in wheelchairs; many are not able to communicate or even respond to people, but all love visiting with sweet and gentle Dudley. Before the team arrived one day after a long absence, a young boy named Paul told his teachers in sign language that he was excited about Dudley coming back to visit. This was the same boy who had been terrified of the dog the first time they met. When the team arrived, Paul smiled and very gingerly touched Dudley on the head. Then he gave Margot an exuberant hug and began stroking Dudley’s head and back. Paul walked alongside them, holding part of the leash and inviting other children to pet the dog.  Paul was so happy to interact with Dudley and never stopped smiling, but more than anything he was proud of himself. He had overcome fear and celebrated this as the great achievement it was. At first Paul threw dog treats on the floor because he was not comfortable having Dudley take a treat from his hand. But after much encouragement, he finally held on to the cookie and Dudley gently took the treat from him. The relief and exhilaration on Paul’s face was something to behold. He had done it! The loud and happy sounds coming from him were those of pure joy.  Giving dog treats has become easy for Paul. Margot told Paul that Dudley is his friend now, and he made the sign for friends while pointing to the dog. This is a child without verbal language skills, but before the team left that day, Paul pointed to Dudley and to everyone’s amazement, quite clearly said, “Dud.”

Category : Dogs With Jobs, Service Dogs

About the Author ()

Pet Partners, formerly Delta Society, is a non-profit organization that brings individuals together who share a common passion - a love of animals and people. We are committed to making a difference within our local communities and across the globe. Vision: People are healthier and happier because companion, service and therapy animals enrich and positively impact their everyday lives. Mission: Pet Partners is the leader in demonstrating and promoting positive human-animal interactions to improve the physical, emotional and psychological lives of those we serve. Visit us at www.petpartners.org.

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