Sunday 25 October 2020

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Cork Independent


My Canine Companion making a positive impact

Wednesday, 7th October, 2020 1:46pm

My Canine Companion (MyCC) is a Cork-based national charity that is internationally accredited and provides service dogs to children and young adults with disabilities primarily autism. MyCC are also currently working on several therapy programmes that promote and create positive mental health.

Covid-19 has been and continues to be a difficult time for everyone and especially for the families of children with autism. Routine has a vital role to play in the life of a child with autism and these last few months have seen routines go out the window, making life more difficult for children on the spectrum but also for the whole family due to increased stress levels.

The charity has been working hard with all their client families throughout this time and their service dogs have accompanied their children to doctor and hospital appointments, eye tests and physio appointments.

Their dogs have even helped some children around the country getting their first communion. Bethany made her first communion with the help of her service dog Gia. Bethany’s mother Nora O’Mahony from Cork said: “There is no way that Bethany would have got through the communion ceremony without Gia by her side. The stress of it all was all too much for Bethany who is on the autism spectrum.

“After 10 minutes of the mass, Bethany got overwhelmed and needed to take a few minutes out with her service dog Gia so she could self-regulate and this enabled her to continue until the completion of the ceremony.

“Gia is a godsend and has changed our families life forever. This communion day would have been 10 times more stressful for the whole family without Gia by our side.”

My Canine Companion is currently developing several therapy services to help with stress and promote positive metal health. They are currently working with several schools both primary and secondary where their dogs are making a huge impact with both neurotypical students and students with disabilities.

Bosco is a dog working full time in a secondary school in Kenmare as a pilot programme which will be rolled out nationwide. Teacher Deirdre Horgan said Bosco has made a huge difference in the school. He helps students deal with anxiety, so they can attend school and calms down students with ASD. He also helps some students socialise. He makes staff smile and calms them too!

My Canine Companion has also worked with several of Ireland’s universities and colleges as well as Cork mental health organisation Da Silly Heads.

They are also working with the elderly visiting nursing homes making a huge difference to the days of the residents there.

The charity believes that the possibilities for dogs helping people to reduce stress and aid positive mental health is endless and it is exploring several projects in this area. After all, who doesn’t smile when they get to pet a dog or a puppy!

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