Ther­apy dog Cooper and Kaiden - a great pair

Bay News - - FRONT PAGE - By Rebecca Mauger [email protected]

Kaiden Mul­lany can’t wait to teach Cooper the labradoo­dle new tricks.

Cooper has a few tricks of his own. He is a ther­apy dog, specif­i­cally trained to be com­pan­ions for chil­dren­with dis­abil­i­ties in­clud­ing high­func­tion­ing autis­tic chil­dren like Kaiden.

Kaiden, 8, has autism spec­trum dis­or­der and of­ten ex­pe­ri­ences high lev­els of anx­i­ety­when faced with new sit­u­a­tions, such as meet­ing new peo­ple. His new labradoo­dle pup­py­will help him in so­cial sit­u­a­tions by giv­ing him fo­cus and a sense of calm.

Cooper will also pro­vide a sense of fa­mil­iar­ity and com­pan­ion­ship.

Kaiden, from Pa¯pa¯moa, does not sleep well at night. His­mum El­ley says Kaiden wakes twice ev­ery night and needs to be set­tled back to sleep.

This is where the Aus­tralian labradoo­dle can help. Coop­er­will sleep on Kaiden’s bed and be a com­fort when hewakes.

“Along with be­ing eas­ily over­whelmed in so­cial sit­u­a­tions, Kaiden is prone to ter­ri­ble night­mares. His new ther­apy pup will pro­vide com­fort and com­pan­ion­ship for him at night— mean­ing a bet­ter night’s sleep,” El­ley says.

“The more he sleeps the bet­ter he copes with day to day life.”

El­ley says autism is a hid­den dis­abil­ity.

“Most peo­ple do not re­alise the toll that daily life takes on Kaiden or un­der­stand his be­hav­iours when he be­comes over­loaded.”

Hav­ing a dog of his own will make the world a lit­tle less scary for him, she says.

Kaiden is home schooled. He can’t wait to get four-month-old Cooper and is look­ing for­ward to “ev­ery­thing” that hav­ing a pet en­tails, in­clud­ing teach­ing Cooper to sit and roll over.

Cooper is be­ing trained by Wendy Isaacs from Ther­apy Dogs New Zealand un­til he goes to Kaiden at the end of Jan­uary.

Ather­apy dog is trained to pro­vide af­fec­tion, com­fort, sup­port and love for chil­dren and adults with a phys­i­cal or emo­tional dis­abil­ity.

Ther­apy dogs dif­fer from

Th‘ ‘ e more he sleeps the bet­ter he copes with day-to­life.’’ day

El­ley Mul­lany

as­sis­tance dogs, which are trained to be task-spe­cific.

Wendy started Ther­apy DogsNew Zealand this year.

She has more than 30 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with dogs, in­clud­ing work­ing with As­sis­tance Dogs New Zealand as a trainer.

“There is a lot of kidswith anx­i­ety and other is­sues. I just felt there­was a huge need out there.”

Her pref­er­ence is labradoo­dles as they ma­ture quickly and are calm.

“They are play­ful, but easy to man­age.

“They are friendly, with high af­fec­tion— they need and give af­fec­tion. Adog changes their­w­hole abil­ity to be able to con­nect with oth­ers.”

The cost varies and pups are around $10,000. The Mul­lany fam­ily re­cently re­ceived $3300 fromMazda Foun­da­tion to go to­wards costs.

The Mul­lanys have more to raise, so if you can help, check out www.givealit­tle.co.nz/ cause/kaidens-ther­apy-dog

Photo / An­drew Warner

Kaiden Mul­lany with ther­apy dog Cooper the labradoo­dle.

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