Canine Companions Facility Dog Rumba has quickly become everyone’s favorite employee at a local therapy clinic. Development is Child’s Play! in Cupertino, CA provides speech, occupational and physical therapy to children with disabilities, and utilizes Rumba’s skills to motivate clients in a way no technology can. Rumba’s calm demeanor, professional training, adorable face and wagging tail make her perfect for her role at the facility.
Facility Dog Rumba is expertly trained in over 40 commands and was recently provided to the clinic free of charge from national nonprofit Canine Companions, an organization that provides service dogs to people with disabilities and professionals working with clients who have disabilities. Occupational therapists Sena Felt and Sarah Coon attended a two-week Team Training on the nonprofit’s campus to be matched with Rumba and learn to utilize her many commands.
Rumba’s training is incorporated into her work with patients in many ways:
- Providing sensory support by placing the weight of her head or body on the client to offer calming deep pressure.
- Supporting mobility by letting children take her on a calm, steady, slow walk
- Demonstrating a therapy activity for a young patient such as crawling through a tunnel or walking on a low balance beam.
- Assisting with speech, language and communication by waving “hi” or following verbal commands of patients.
- Working on fine motor skills by wearing specially made fastener vests so kids can practice buttons, snaps and zippers.
- Helping children learn self-care by brushing teeth and trimming nails.
The mother of a young client shares, “My son, who does occupational therapy with Ms. Sena, just can’t get enough of Rumba. He was amazed at how Rumba can pull sticks and take turns at a Kerplunk game. Petting her instantly relaxes him and reduces his loneliness and anxiety. Most importantly, Rumba is added motivation for him to keep moving!”
Rumba’s handler Sena shares, “Rumba has an amazing, gentle way of interacting with our clients. She plays turn taking activities with our kids, which is fun for them, especially now when we need to maintain social distance from other clients during our sessions, she becomes a fun playmate to engage with.” Sena continues, “I am so grateful to have her as part of our therapy team.”