Caitlin UltimoPet Parenting / Pet Stories

Pets Doing Good: Dogs With Jobs and Cats on a Mission


Tag: Tami Goldstein, a craniosacral therapist, also uses animal-assisted therapy at her practice, A Therapeutic Touch by Tami in Janesville, Wisconsin. She treats children on the autism spectrum who have sensory-processing disorders. Tami uses Upledger-CranioSacral Therapy to improve their sensory, motor and mental dysfunction. “It is most beneficial facilitated if the client lays down,” explains Tami. But because of their neurodevelopmental disorders, her clients are uncomfortable lying down or sitting for a long period of time. Some therapists choose to use a weighted blanket to help. As a parent raising a child with autism, Tami saw how beneficial therapy dogs can be as an alternative solution. “Autism dogs are trained to calm the individual down and give them the proprioception (deep pressure) they need to lie down or help with socialization.” Her little helper, six-year-old Tag, is a 5-pound Morkie (Yorkshire Terrier/Maltese) who provides pet therapy every day in the office. He’s just heavy enough to lie on the kids’ stomachs to make them feel grounded. Tag is a natural at his job, which makes sense, because Morkies are the number one breed when it comes to lap dogs. “Tag seems to be very intuitive with these children. He knows whether it’s best to lie on or next to a child, when it’s ok to be more excited and playful, and when to be quiet and snuggly.” As part Yorkshire Terrier, which is a working dog breed, Tag gets true enjoyment from being a therapy dog, and he loves the attention. “I am really amazed at how well and how quickly Tag can make an individual on the spectrum feel more comfortable. If not for him, some of my kids wouldn’t even be willing to get the therapy. They send him cards and toys, and he puts a smile on their faces.”

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