My sons, Daniel and McKay, are twins with Cerebral Palsy. They have received therapy at the STARS clinic for several years. As a younger child, Daniel had separation anxiety and was upset being left with the therapist. When Ovelle stepped into his schedule, he never had another day of tears. Even the hardest work was still enjoyable with the companionship of Ovelle and the enthusiastic support of Diane. At the conclusion of the day, Daniel walked out to the waiting room with Ovelle’s leash in hand. Diane would sing a special “Daniel and Ovelle song” for him and he would continue to hum that song all week to refer to the fun he had in working with Ovelle. Daniel regularly mentions the dogs in his nightly prayers as he refers to his best friends. McKay has been insecure walking without a hand held by an adult. His sensory challenges have made it hard for him to touch a variety of things limiting his ability to interact, eat and play, but he will hold the leash as he walks Ovelle down the hallway. Building off that leash hold and by using the dogs as a bridge to increase new sensory experiences, McKay now touches many things and even plays tetherball with the dogs. The reward of having the dogs with the boys and participating in the tasks required in speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy makes the job less difficult and even enjoyable for them. Truthfully, I was surprised that they learned so much quicker with dogs at their sides. – Cassie and Jared Roundy

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