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September 2015

Hi everyone and welcome to our first newsletter.
As it's the first, I thought it could be an introduction to the animals of Dantes
Dream's Animal-Assisted Therapy; a brief introduction to what we do and what our
purpose is.

We look forward to bringing you updates, news and information every two months
and hope you enjoy our newsletters.

We are a non-profit registered charity.
Our main aim is to help those on the Autism Spectrum be able to be in an
environment with animals.
A lot of these people find it difficult to relate to people but with animals they can
form a strong bond.
Scientific evidence has shown that being with animals is beneficial.
We will take those with other disabilities and are also available to take the animals
to rest homes, schools etc.
Not everyone is able to afford or has access to animals so we want to allow as many
people as possible to take part in the therapy programme. By not having a set cost it
allows people to come and be in an environment with animals without the worry of
money or responsibility of having an animal themselves. A donation is greatly appreciated as we are not government funded so the upkeep of the animals and equipment relies solely on fundraising and donations.

Pal is a 23 year old thoroughbred gelding. His name
unfortunately has a meaning behind it. One of his
previous owners rescued him from the dog food
truck, hence the name Pal – Pal dog food. He was a
riding for the disabled horse at Napier RDA which is
when I first met him. I rode him there and we
formed a strong bond. When they decided to retire
him they wanted me to have him. He is an excellent
therapy horse and is one of the favorites with clients!

Flika is a 7 year old miniature horse mare. I have
had her since she was a yearling. She has been a
therapy horse for a few years now. Even before we
officially started the therapy programme she went to
Hohepa School and Hohepa Clive on a regular basis.
She is an excellent therapy horse and is the perfect
size for those not used to horses.

Carlos is an 18 year old english riding pony. We
have had him on free lease for just over a year. He
loves food and getting lots of attention. He is perfect to take out and we had great fun at the beach
when we took him. He is very friendly and you definitely have to watch out if you have food around
cause he will try and steal it!

Burma is an adult rabbit. He came to us from the
SPCA. We were able to get him due to a kind donation from St Lukes Mission Guild last year. He
is a lovely rabbit and seems to take well to being
patted and handled by the clients. He was the star
of the show at the A & P show in October last

Daisy is a Romney sheep. She is a newly acquired
member of therapy team. She is very inquisitive and
will come running to you if you have a bucket of

Rukia is a 3 year old cat. She has joined the therapy
team due to one of our clients taking a particular
liking to her and wanting to see her / have cuddles
with her on a Monday morning.

March 2015: Hohepa Fair – Pal, Carlos, Flika, Burma and Daisy were all very
popular with Pal being the star of the show. All three horses were lead and raised
a considerable amount of money which helped to buy a saddle.

Over the last 3 months Flika and Burma have visited Summerville Rest Home in
Hastings; Ashcroft House at Mary Doyle in Havelock North and Duart Resthome
and Hospital in Havelock North.
Burma has been to visit one of the houses at Hohepa Clive a few times also.

Each year, Equidays proudly endorses two charities providing support to the equine community.

The Official Charities are the the only two charities allowed to fundraise at the
event and will receive an exhibition sight in aid of raising awareness and funds
for their cause. They are also able to provide opportunities for the charities to increase exposure by utilising Equidays’, social media, website and programme.
Dantes Dream’s Animal-Assisted Therapy was very fortunate to be chosen as one
of the charities to go to the Equidays at Mystery Creek in October. We are looking
forward to being involved and will report back in the next newsletter.

The Power of Pets: Animals Can Help Autistic Children Socialize
Written by Brian Krans | Published on February 27, 2013
Australian researchers have found that children with autism are more social when
playing with animals as opposed to toys.
Humans first domesticated animals to help with the housework, from herding cattle
to killing mice. Now, we keep pets mainly for companionship, but new research offers
further proof that animals can also have a therapeutic effect.
Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia explored how animals
can help autistic children socialize in the classroom. They found that autistic kids
showed more pro-social behavior toward other children during unstructured playtime with animals present.

Autism is a group of developmental disorders characterized by impaired communication and social skills. Symptoms typically appear by the age of three. Autism affects
about one in 91 children in the U.S.
Socializing is often the biggest challenge for autistic children. In the classroom, they
may struggle to engage with their peers, which can lead to isolation, rejection, bullying, and other stressful interactions.
How Animals Help Autistic Children in the Classroom
Previous research has shown that interacting with animals can help autistic children, but
the Australian researchers were the first to use blind ratings when comparing animal interaction to playing with toys, another common tool used to help autistic children interact with
their peers.
Researchers compared how well children ages five to 13 interacted with adults and their
“typically-developing peers” during free time. One group was given toys to play with while the
other was placed in a room with two hamsters.

The autistic children who played with the hamsters showed more sociability by talking,
smiling, laughing, looking at faces, and making physical contact with others. The children with the hamsters were also less likely to frown, whine, cry, and express other negative behavior than those who played with toys.
For children with an autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, “the school classroom can be a
stressful and overwhelming environment due to social challenges and peer victimization.
If an animal can reduce this stress or artificially change children’s perception of the
classroom and its occupants, then a child with ASD may feel more at ease and open to
social approach behaviors,” the researchers said in a press release.
The Australian study appears in the latest issue of PLOS ONE.

Animals and Autism
The bond between man and animal goes back centuries. Using animals in therapy dates
back as far as the 18th century. While research shows that contact with animals can reduce stress, some animals go beyond mere cuddling to assist their owners.
Clark Pappas is the director of participant programs for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a nonprofit organization that trains companion dogs for people with disabilities. They’ve been training service dogs to help autistic children for 20 years.
At CCI, golden and Labrador retrievers are trained to assist their owners in a variety of
situations, including helping autistic children in the classroom.

Pappas and others at CCI have found that dogs are helpful in many scenarios, especially
for aiding parents when they leave the house. Because some autistic children are reluctant to leave their parent's side, simply having the child hang onto the dog makes taking
trips and running errands easier.
“It enables a sense of calm to exist when the parents and kids are able to go out,” Pappas
For those who qualify for a companion animal, the results may not be immediate, but
they can last forever. Pappas said that over the typical 10-year lifespan of a guide dog,
children with autism may see the same level of social development as those without the
“In general, it’s rare to see something profound right off the bat, but over time, there’s a
profound effect,” he said.