He weighs 165 pounds and works at a home for abused, neglected and emotionally disturbed kids in California. Rather than fuss about the idiot in the White House, the deterioration of the US economy, my sore toe and whatever else is bothering me, I’d rather think about this Newfie and look at this picture (LA Times/Ken Hively) – story and photo from this morning’s Denver Post. Aas usual, story below the fold if the link has expired.
Troubled children find a friend in clinic’s furry therapist
Archie reaches out to the children at a California therapy center in a way people can’t. And, he lets them pull on his ears.
By Mary Engel
Los Angeles Times
Article Last Updated: 07/18/2007 09:57:23 PM MDT
The toddlers spot him the instant he steps out of his office. They swarm, shouting his name: “Archie! Archie! Archie!” He drops to the ground, eye-level with 3-year-olds. They lean into him, hug him, climb on him.
At Casa Pacifica, a Ventura County, Calif., oasis for abused, neglected and emotionally disturbed children, patience and calm aren’t just virtues; they’re job requirements. Archie has worked at the leafy campus in Camarillo, Calif., for two years, and he doesn’t flinch when small hands pull his ears and wandering fingers poke his nostrils.
Instead, he bestows slobbery kisses with a pink tongue as large as a hand towel.
“Yucky!” the kids squeal, hugging the 165-pound dog all the harder.
Archie was Vicki Murphy’s idea. Her boss, Steven Elson, Casa Pacifica’s executive director, was initially skeptical of so-called therapy dogs.
But Murphy, 51, Casa Pacifica’s director of operations and development, had watched dogs work magic with children before. A former private school teacher, she once raised a puppy in her classroom. The second-graders took turns walking Rudy, a Labrador retriever, and learned not to rock their chairs on his paws or tail.
If dogs could teach privileged children about responsibility and nurturing, Murphy mused, maybe they could help kids whose human role models had failed them utterly.
Murphy chose a Newfoundland for Casa Pacifica after researching breeds. Newfies are gentle, playful, lovable dogs whose devotion to children has earned them accolades as natural babysitters. Some children are initially frightened of Archie. They quickly get over it.
“Immediately the kids sense someone who is warm and cuddly. Being near him gives them a great sense of security,” said Howard Miller, a Casa Pacifica therapist.
Wired teenagers walk out their frustrations next to Archie. Lonely adolescents sit beside him on the green lawn, arms draped across his broad back. Kids who are having trouble in school practice reading aloud to him, choosing from a library of books about Newfies.
A toddler spoke her first word at Casa Pacifica: “Archie.”
As for the drooling, Murphy and the other staffers have learned to live with what the kids call Archie’s “schnarf.” A local quilting group has made 20 giant bibs, embroidered with Archie’s name or phrases such as “World’s Greatest Smoocher.”