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Therapy Dog Summer Program Debuts

Animal Assisted Therapy Services (AaTs) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to build the human/animal connection as a motivator for therapeutic and recreational purposes. While they work with children and adults with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities, this summer they are launching a program for all youth, ages 11 to 14 years old. The focus is learning more about the development, training and role of a credentialed therapy dog. Participants have the opportunity to work directly with AaTs’ credentialed therapy dogs at AaTs’ center in Milford.

During this hands-on experience, participants will engage in practicing basic training skills, agility play, grooming, dental care and a myriad of other activities designed to increase bonding with the dogs and peers. The emphasis is on the connection between nature, animals, farms, food and a healthy style of living. The attendees will tend the garden at the center and use the kitchen to prepare delicious, healthy food for both dogs and people. At the conclusion of the session, participants take the dogs on a therapy visit to an assisted living facility in the community under the supervision of AaTs trainers and therapists. 

Key components for the program include fostering love and care for animals, and acquainting participants with the field of training therapy, service and emotional support dogs. They will gain experience handling the dogs, learn how basic training skills shape a dog’s behavior, and understand the communication and body language between humans and animals.

Session I and II will run from 9:30am to 2:30pm on July 8-11 and July 15-18, respectively. The cost per session is $250. Register by April 15 and receive a $25 discount.

Beth Patella, a recreational therapist, certified professional dog trainer and registered PATH therapeutic riding instructor, is the co-founder and director of AaTs. She specializes in animal-assisted interventions and is also a certified sound therapist. 

For more information and to register, call 203-804-5343, email Chris.Patella@AATSCT.org or visit AATSCT.org.

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