In part two of our three-part series on service, therapy and emotional support cats, I am proud to introduce you to Raul and his human, Sarah. Raul is a therapy cat. You’ll recall from the first post that a therapy cat provides support, affection and comfort to the individuals in a group or public setting. Unlike service cats, these cats do not enjoy the special privileges that a service animal does. For example, they must be invited into the facility where they are offering their services.
Without further adieux, please meet Sarah and her therapy cat, Raul.
TCT: Sarah, describe Raul’s personality?
Sarah/Raul: He’s very outgoing. He greets people at the door and is always with me and the family. He never likes being away from us.
TCT: What made you first realize that Raul could be a therapy cat?
Sarah/Raul: My teacher friend suggested I bring Raul in to interact with her special needs students and that was the original idea that got me started on the therapy animal path for Raul. Raul has such an amazing personality, I knew he would have a positive experience and so would the children that met him.
TCT: What’s involved in getting certified?
Sarah/Raul: First, I got Raul registered through an organization that works with therapy cats. He needed updated vet records and an experienced animal trainer/handler to evaluate him. The evaluation determines how the animal reacts to sudden noises, aggression and their overall demeanor. They also check to see if I had the ability to handle Raul appropriately should something go wrong. Raul passed with flying colors and the rest is history!
TCT: What kind of work does Raul do?
Sarah/Raul: Raul has many talents, but he most enjoys working with children and helping them become better readers. Reading out loud helps children become better readers, but some kids are fearful of reading out loud, particularly if they are already struggling with reading. Raul lets kids practice reading without the fear of being judged or being embarrassed if they mess up. Raul doesn’t know or care if a mistake is made.
Raul also works with special needs children helping them learn how to interact socially with their environment, and how to pet an animal in an appropriate manner. Raul and I also love to visit the boys and girls club and spend time with all of the kids there… and this summer we partnered with the school district for a program that provided free books and activities to local kids five days a week.