Therapy dog Cooper and Kaiden - a great pair
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
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
Kaiden Mullany with therapy dog Cooper the labradoodle.