Enjoy this delightful Q and A with Peggy Frezon, author of The Dog in the Dentist Chair – which releases today, National Change a Pet’s Life Day!
Q. Faithfully Yours for Kids is about animals who “visit, cuddle, help, heal and love kids.” What is one of the most surprising ways an animal helps children?
A. One of my favorite stories in the book is about JoJo, a golden retriever who jumps up
onto the dentist chair with kids who are afraid of getting their teeth worked on. I think it’s a wonderful, non-medicated, non-invasive way for a child to be calmed at the dentist. Just stroking the dog, and feeling her warmth close to them, helps comforts them. I think I like this story too because just maybe I’m a little uncomfortable at the dentist office, too.
Q. What is the most unusual animal in the book?
A. I’d have to say the most unusual animal in the book is Bacon Bits, the therapig, or therapy pig! He loves to be around kids and visits them at schools, libraries, fairs, group homes, hospitals, airports, parades, and many, many events. He’s a mini (well, at 125 lbs, not so mini!) local celebrity. The next most unusual might be the therapy rats. Kids love them! We also have stories about a cat who encourages kids to read, a black lab who helps a boy when he’s about to have a seizure, a golden retriever who surfs with special needs kids, a draft horse who helps strengthen the muscles of kids with cerebral palsy. There are many, many other ways animals help kids.
Q. Many of the animals in the book are service or therapy animals. What is the difference?
A. A therapy animal is a dog, cat, or other animal which provides comfort and affection to people. They often visit hospitals, schools, libraries, nursing homes, and group homes, offices, airports…just about anywhere. People are encouraged to pet and interact with the therapy animal. A service animal (dog) is specifically trained to perform a task or tasks that help an individual. Guide dogs for the blind, seizure alert dogs, and mobility assistance dogs are examples of service dogs. Service dogs perform tasks that the individual cannot do himself or herself, due to a disability.
Q. Are pets good for children?
A. Pets are great for kids when the whole family is on board and ready to welcome them into the family. Pets help children learn about nurturing and compassion. They help kids learn responsibility. Pets may even help a child be healthier–there is evidence that having a pet in the home during a child’s first year of life may help reduce the child’s risk of developing allergies. But most of all, the family dog or cat is often a child’s first friend. When we foster a loving connection between children and pets, and teach them to be respectful of all animals, the bonds will be forever strong.
Q. You’re a dog lover. Tell us about the dogs in your life.
A. My husband and I adopted a special dog about five years ago—he was eleven years old and had been dumped on the streets to fend for himself. He was just so sweet and loving—he’s the dog who helped us realize that God put it on our hearts to rescue senior dogs. We take them in and give them a nice retirement, a loving home for their golden years. We now have a golden retriever, Ernest, who is 10 years old. Just after we adopted him he was diagnosed with cancer. He now is a therapy dog for people with cancer. We also have a golden retriever, Petey, who’s one and a half, and doing his best to keep us all young.