There are squeals, yelps and apprehensive pats going around. For a small group of six students from Vidya Sagar, a recent week day morning saw one of those special doggies day outs. Except in this case, the doggies already knew their way around and played host — doing everything from perching on the laps of these newcomers in wheelchairs to offering up a paw as a welcome hello. Organised by the Hotel for Dogs on ECR, this was a first for the students (all in the 20 to 25 age group) who are affected by cerebral palsy.
Said Prabha, a board member at Vidya Sagar, “I’ve seen how the interaction between our rottweiler at home, Kruger, has helped my son who has cerebral palsy.” She adds quickly, “In fact, we have taken AbhijIth everywhere from the zoo in Chennai to the snake park, he’s touched lion cubs in South Africa... and now he’s really comfortable with animals.” So when the owner of the Hotel for Dogs, 22-year-old Shravan Krishnan proposed the idea that the students go over for an interaction, Prabha was only too happy to oblige.
Of course to ensure all went well, only the friendliest dogs at the boarding facility were chosen for this morning meet-and-greet. Shravan says, “We made it a point to introduce the students to dogs who are used to kids, so in case there was a tail pulled or a loud noise made, it wouldn’t be a problem.” The dogs on the scene included adorable beagle puppy Layla, Toffee, a cocker spaniel who spent most of her time under the chair of her favourite visitor, Kruger the ever calm rottweiler owned by Prabha and finally Tootsie, a giant white Labrador who’s only interest was to jump into the nearby pool, splash around, then come out and shake off his bath water on all gathered.
For once, it was the caregivers that took longer to get used to the tail waggers in their midst, than the youngsters. However, the glee on most faces was unmistakable. How did that saying go? Oh yes, ‘Whoever said you can’t buy happiness forgot little puppies.’