AN innovative way to stimulate and treat children with mental disabilities by letting them interact with the South African Boerboel will be introduced to the public for the first time at this year‘s Absa Kirkwood Wildlife Festival. The introduction of the new “dog play therapy” will be done at a boerboel day planned for Saturday, June 30, as part of the wildlife weekend in Kirkwood.
According to the chairman of the Boerboel Association, Jakkie Erasmus, the idea of interaction with dogs and mentally handicapped children came from his experience over many years of using interaction with horses as therapy to stimulate children. Later, after becoming involved with boerboel breeding, he realised the breed was ideal for interaction with children. “The boerboel is a very big and strong dog, but well-disciplined and never aggressive unless told to be. This makes it ideal for children. The children are not afraid of the dogs and the dogs are never a threat to the children, even if a child accidently hurts a dog.” Erasmus said they had already started experimenting with the therapy at the Minnett Children‘s Home in Uitenhage and the successes had been remarkable. “Even if they just play with the dogs, it is a valued form of stimulation for the children.
You can see they enjoy it.” Although the dogs live with their breeders, they regularly visit the children, who are awarded joint ownership with certain responsibilities. The therapy programme as well as the characteristics of the breed will be introduced to the public during the sixth Kirkwood Wildlife Festival from June 29 to July 1.