The Great Lawn in Central Park became the Great Doggie Lawn…
For four days after the Global Citizens Concert, the fence around the great lawn was left down…and the dogs moved in.
I swear I could hear all the dogs say, “Best day EVER. And…why not every day?”
Those dogs have a good question. Why not every day?
Our dogs are no longer just pets. We know the power and pervasiveness of the human-animal bond that we have with our dogs.
Our dogs sleep in our beds, sit on our couches, comfort us when we cry, make us laugh when we most need it. They visit strangers in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, etc., to bring joy and therapy. They work to find, support, and guide their humans as various working and service dogs.
Don’t they deserve some of the fifty-five acres of the Great Lawn more often than just by accident after concerts.
I would imagine that morning dog-play won’t tear up the lawn any more than these huge concerts or any more than hundreds (if not thousands) of baseball cleats do every weekend during the season.
These four days when it was the Great Doggie Lawn were a civilized gift for dogs and their humans who live in an often emotionally and physically challenging city.
Why can’t the Central Park Conservancy give that gift more often by opening up the Great Lawn and other baseball lawns for dogs and humans, even if only occasionally throughout the year?
The Three Dogs Training Animal Assisted Therapy, Education, and Activities class returns October 30, 2021.
In the last twenty-two years I have taught at least one AATEA class each year except for 2020. I think we all know what happened in 2020…
When we visit people with our dogs we get to experience:
Seeing someone light up with joy when your dog comes to visit them
Seeing your dog bring – voice to the voiceless, awareness to those who sometimes lose their focus in this world, or give someone a moment not thinking about their pain
Watching a child relax as they read out loud to the dog who won’t judge them.
And finding that years later that the now-college-student still cherishes the bookmark she made of her picture reading with your dog.
Many years ago I wrote this and it stands the test of time:
It is a rare thing in humans to be able to look at the face of a person whose life has so obviously been harsh or has taken a turn in that direction without visible pity and anguish. And it is a rare thing for the person being looked upon to not see the discomfort in the face of the onlooker.
However, it is the dog, the cat, and the rest of our companion animals who do not see what has been, but who look only at the possibility of and need for joy that exists in all of us. For the animals, it’s not about pity, anguish, or guilt. It is about their exceptional and majestic gift of being able to tease out the joy in all things even where there seems to be none left. And it is this that allows them to often go where no person can go to do therapeutic work.
If you feel it is time to share the joy of your dog with others, the Three Dogs Training AATEA class will teach you the following:
Skills you will need to navigate your visits
Skills to support and advocate for the safety of your dog
And some little tricks to make the most of the visits for everyone
Since 2000, Animal Assisted Intervention has been a huge part of my life. I have done thousands of visits with three of my own therapy dogs, taught hundreds of teams (maybe more) to go out into the world and bring joy, learning, and therapy with their dogs. I have consulted on campus therapy dog programs for two residential special needs schools. And even my best-selling book “A Dog Named Boo” was re-released this July to get us all back in the animal assisted intervention frame of mind.