“[Divine Canines] started in 2004 with five handlers and their dogs, and one trainer,” says Max Woodfin, Executive Director of Divine Canines. “They realized that their dogs could make people feel better and happy.” The volunteer organization, and others like it, provides a free service to their clients. Therapy dogs regularly visit hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, facilities for persons with emotional and mental disabilities, and school reading programs to provide affection, comfort, and a “conversation”
“A lot of the returning soldiers from Afghanistan would come back and wouldn’t talk beyond the basics. What we noticed is…a deep emotional bond would form, sometimes within just moments of being with the [therapy] dog,” says Woodfin. Divine Canines frequently works with Fort Hood. The military base houses over 40,000 soldiers, making it the largest military base in the United States. “These soldiers were finding their ability to communicate – whether verbally or not – with the dogs.”
Therapy dogs are a benefit to many organizations, and one of the easiest resolutions presented by working with animals came from helping people read, according to Woodfin, “Therapy dogs help students having difficulty reading – no matter their age. Students reading to the dog, with no direct influence from a teacher, began to relax and flow through easier.”
These examples do not even begin to demonstrate the relationships that begin to develop during animal-assisted therapy. Attendees will get the chance to hear more stories throughout the Austin Pet Expo. The Expo will also feature opportunities for fan photos and autographs with both Shorty Rossi (Animal Planet’s “Pit Boss” & “America’s Cutest Pets”) and Celebrity Dog Trainer Harrison Forbes (“Good Morning America” and the “Today Show”), along with more than 100 exhibitors, live entertainment and demonstrations, and a Petfinder.com mega-adoption area with more than 200 rescue pets available for adoption. Low-cost immunizations, discounted microchipping and free nail trims will also be available for all the furry friends who need them.
The event will take place on Saturday, August 2, 2014 from 10am to 6pm, at the Palmer Events Center. This free, indoor and air-conditioned event is expected to attract more than 12,000 attendees along with their furry, feathered and reptilian pals who are looking to enjoy a new and one-of-a-kind experience where all pets can enjoy a fun day out with their pet parent(s). All well-behaved pets are welcome, as long as they’re on a fixed lead (or in a carrier) and have proof of age-appropriate rabies vaccines.
The 2014 Austin Pet Expo is produced by Amazing Expos, a leading event production firm that currently produces more than 39 large pet expos across the United States. For more information, call 800-977-3609, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.austinpetexpo.com, http://www.facebook.com/