David (not his real name) was mute. He could talk but because of a challenging learning disability he chose not to say a word and went through each day in complete silence. His teachers and parents had worked with him for months with little progress, until he met Jessica and Alamo.
As a “pet partner” team with Intermountain Therapy Animals, Jessica Grennan and her dog Alamo volunteer for two hours a week in David’s special education classroom with 3rd and 4th graders. According to Jessica, “It’s a toss-up who loves Tuesday mornings more—Alamo, the kids, their teacher, or me. These kids wrestle with learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and more. But when Alamo and I walk into the room, their eyes light up. They love to sit on the floor with her, or brush her, even lie against her while reading a book to her. They also love when she does her tricks for them at the end of class and they can give her a goldfish cracker treat. Alamo is pretty excited about this part, too!”
It was on her first visit that she met David and made it her goal to get David reading to Alamo. “The very next week when we visited, this sweet boy ran to the book box, picked out a book and came to sit by Alamo and me on the floor. He smiled as he showed me the book, Henry and Mudge—a book about a little boy and his dog. Slowly and very quietly, he started to sound out the words. One year later, David always walks into the classroom and says, “Hi Alamo!” He is reading with more confidence and raising his hand to answer questions in class. It’s been such a joy to watch him grow and to see how AIamo has played a role in his life. Alamo doesn’t care about these kids’ physical and mental disabilities. Every Tuesday morning when I tell her, “It’s time to volunteer,” she runs to the back door and wags her tail. When we leave the school, she walks very reluctantly back to the car because she’s just not ready to quit yet.
At the Heart of Our Community are people like Jessica and her dog Alamo and organizations like Intermountain Therapy Animals where the goal is to enhance the quality of life through the human-animal bond.
It’s what makes Our Community great!
For more information about Intermountain Therapy Animal programs or to volunteer or donate visit: http://www.therapyanimals.org/Home.html
David and Alamo’s story is brought to you through the Utah Bankers Heart of Our Community initiative. For more stories like David’s follow our blog at www.heartofourcommunity.com or on FaceBook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest #heartofourcommunity #utahsbanks #intermountaintherapyanimals