Payson ~ Subtle Teacher
Payson, a black Lab and Golden Retriever mix, is known as the ‘star’ by her owner, Julie Moran, and her Helping Hand, Becky Samford. Their visits take them to work with three and four-year-old children at a Head Start classroom. While Head Start offers education, it is also about developing the needed core behaviors to be successful in school – Gabriel’s Angels Pet Therapy program is a perfect fit!
Julie is the first to admit that at times it is challenging to see the impact the visits have with the Head Start children. “We have experienced a child “warming up” to Payson, but sometimes we wish for more tangible evidence that we are making a difference.” While the team understands the power of the human-animal connection, they recognize that occasionally the impact is so subtle it may be overlooked.
One example of this occurred recently. The children enjoy learning how to care for pets through their interaction with Payson. The act of filling her water bowl is so cherished that a game has been created so every child gets to offer Payson a drink. Payson is clearly teaching the behavior of respect – to animals and each other. This became evident one day after the Therapy Team had departed and the room became exceptionally noisy and chaotic. One young boy spoke up and asked everyone to quiet down. He proclaimed, “Payson doesn’t like loud noises!”
Gabriel’s Angels Pet Therapy Teams are reaching abused, neglected and at-risk children by developing critical behaviors – respect, awareness, and tolerance. Payson shows everyone how these behaviors stay with the children even after the visit has ended!