The first session of assisted therapy with dogs corresponding to the fourth edition of Project Wow organized by Purina. On this occasion the protagonists were the puppies Tuna, Pimba and Poma, and a fortnight of young people with intellectual disabilities from the occupational workshop of the Centro Pedralbes Association of Barcelona.
This meeting was the end point to a new edition of the Wow Project, the volunteer program in which 24 volunteers participated, who have lived together with the three dogs for a year. help their socialization and education in the process of becoming assisted therapy dogs. During the event, which was attended by Sonia Sáez, Brand Manager of Corporate Purina, Francesc Ristol, General Director of the Center for Assisted Therapies with Canes (CTAC) and Elisa Llopis, Director of the Centro Pedralbes Association, a group of Volunteers participating in this new edition of the Guau Project have accompanied the three dogs to their first session of assisted therapy with young people with intellectual disabilities, taught by CTAC.
In the words of Sonia Sáez, Brand Manager of Corporate and Veterinary Purina: «We are very proud to carry out this initiative, since year after year we find ourselves as young people with intellectual disabilities, children suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or other neurological disorders, the elderly or people with some physical disability improve their autonomy and self-esteem after participating in assisted therapy sessions with dogs ».
The crucial role of volunteers
The work of the Wow Project volunteers, who receive training that trains them as Technical Assistants in Animal Assisted Interventions, is key and, without a doubt, they are responsible for much of the success of this initiative. The process of socialization and education of dogs, especially in the first stage of their life, is a great effort on the part of the volunteers which translates into a high dedication of time and constancy in the correction of dog behaviors. CTAC is the entity responsible within the Guau Project for completing this first training of volunteers with specific programs to turn them into assisted therapy dogs.
The first two editions of the Guau Project focused on the training of assistance dogs and contributed to the improvement of the quality of life of several children with ASD. In the third edition, dogs were trained to become assisted therapy dogs aimed at improving the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. And in this fourth edition, the three dogs socialized and trained by Purina volunteers will finish the final training process and participate in the different projects that are being carried out, aimed at boost health and improve people’s quality of life with some type of disability, children admitted to hospitals and elderly people in nursing homes.