ANIMAL PARTNERS: Training Animals to Help People by Patricia Curtis

ANIMAL PARTNERS: Training Animals to Help People

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The subject is the partnership between animals and handicapped people, which Curtis has already dealt with in Greff: The Story of a Guide Dog and Cindy, a Hearing Ear Dog; and the method is the synthetic first-person Curtis used in Animal Rights. Thus in identical homogenized tones, eight invented composites ""tell"" of their experiences as a trainer of dogs for the physically handicapped, a teacher at a nursery school for the emotionally disturbed where pets serve as ""assistant therapists,"" a trainer of guide dogs for the blind, and so on. There are all sorts of heartwarming examples, such as the therapeutic-riding instructor's report on how a sad and passive twelve-yearold with a mental age of six becomes sunny and outgoing in the course of lessons in riding and horse care with his special class--or the observations of a counselor at a farm school for emotionally disturbed kids (they're branded Future Murderers of America by the staff), who watches the violent kids go soft with the animals. The qualities of the animals are also pointed up appreciatively--as when a three-legged dog saves its deaf owner from an oncoming car. Another worker tells of taking animals from a local shelter to visit bored old people in nursing homes: one home, encouraged by the residents' response, has established its own collection of pets, which can be checked out like library books. Most of the workers in these projects, Curtis tells us, are drawn first to working with the animals, only secondarily to the people. The writing doesn't sparkle but the subject has appeal, with an interesting vocational angle for readers attracted to animals and the helping professions.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Lodestar/Dutton