Helping Paws, Healing Hearts - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Helping Paws, Healing Hearts

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CLEVELAND, TN (WRCB)--  Amy Hicks of Helping Paws Healing Hearts (HPHH), a non-profit 5013(c) organization, has two therapy dogs named Larry and Daryl.  She has her Masters Degree in Counseling, and her Ed.S in Administration and Supervision.  She works part-time as an elementary school counselor, and the balance of her time is used for volunteer pet therapy.  Amy is also an author of a children's book "Character Tales, Learning to Respect the Rules".  This book is written about her dogs and the consequences they suffered by escaping out of the fenced yard. 

 Paws 4 Fitness is a unique program she uses to teach children about a healthy diet, lifestyle, and simple effective exercise.  Self esteem and body image are important components of this program.  Child obesity and Type 2 diabetes are on the rise. Children need to be taught healthy habits early, to prevent adolescence and adulthood health issues.

 Amy uses her dogs and their story to teach character education at elementary schools.  She also uses the dogs for troubled children and grief counseling.  The children love Larry and Daryl and their non-threatening presence which allows the children to open up and speak when they would not otherwise do so.  Amy encourages them to tell Larry and Daryl how they feel or what is going on in their life. 

 The dogs completely connect with the children.  She has witnessed one or the other dogs instinctively go and sit next to a troubled child and stay at their side during the entire class session.  The children bond with the dogs in a way they may not normally be able to, even with the most approachable adult.  Amy says the dogs are a tool to comfort distressed children, and often has the dogs present when she has to give bad news to children. 

 Amy also conducts a grief camp for children ages 7-14 who area grieving the loss of a loved one.  She is joined by volunteers of mental health agencies, grief counselors, school counselors, and college students.  The weekend is free to the children and allows them a time to heal, relax, and have pet, music and play therapy.

If you would like more information, visit HPHH at  

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