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Dogs are helping people stay clean and sober
Three years into the program, “weve seen a difference,” Knight says. “Were finding about 70 percent of clients are clean and sober now … most made it through the [most difficult] first year because they had their dog back. I think we have something very special.”
Whats more, the dogs are doing good even as theyre in foster care — they most often go to homes of others in recovery. “When we get to a point that [the clients] are pretty solid and thinking about getting a dog, they foster for people going into rehab,” Knight says. “We encourage them to experience what it is to have a dog.”
Dogs stay present in the moment. Thats important for people in recovery, we try to not worry about the future as much. And dogs dont let their past define them.
And what is that experience? “That first year can be very lonely,” Knight says. “Most people are not going to be in relationships and they shouldnt be. A dog can provide so many positive elements to what the human experience is about: purpose, responsibility, trust, unconditional love.” In his own first year, Knight says, “I was depressed and having to face the reality of my consequences. You dont want to get out of bed but if you have a dog sitting on top of you … it gives you that motivation and that responsibility.”
Dogs can teach an important lesson, too, he says. “Dogs stay present in the moment. Thats important for people in recovery, we try to not worry about the future as much. And dogs dont let their past define them.”
Knight is working to launch Dogs Matter programs across the country. But theres a whole world of other opportunity for dogs to make a difference.
It turns out there are also dogs on our planet that help scientists, Carr said. They sniff out animal poop to help scientists learn more about different species. We can learn a lot from the DNA we find in an animal’s poop. Some dogs sniff out orca poop that floats in the ocean to help us learn more about the whales.
A long time ago, wolves would trail along after humans on hunting trips and eat any scraps they could find. Eventually these wolves evolved into dogs that helped protect the hunters and gatherers.
A dog can use its sensitive nose to help humans, too. At airports, some dogs sniff out luggage to make sure people aren’t bringing anything they shouldn’t on the plane. In some cases, dogs can even sniff out cancer in people.
Ever since then, dogs have had all kinds of jobs. They work on farms where they guard the land and also round up livestock like sheep and cows. Dogs also provide humans with company. Just petting a dog can create a real physical change in the human body.
What do dogs do to help in your life? Why are they important to you? Tell us about it sometime at [email protected]