Telly the therapy dog is a Labrador retriever who’s been professionally trained for the work she does. In the video above, Telly is bonding and developing a friendship with 9-year-old Jarene, who was born without the ability to swallow. Jarene also has difficulties speaking, as a result.
By playing and mirroring a lot of Jarene’s emotions, the two start a fast connection, which has helped Jarene develop self-confidence, says Jarene’s mother, Sally.
“Telly is a non-judgmental dog,” and she is able to help people feel her love, which allows them to connect with her emotionally, explains Telly’s human, Maureen Huang, a therapist who runs animal assisted therapy provider Pawsibility.
Huang told Mashable that therapy dogs are a lot more uncommon in Singapore compared with the U.S., because there are far fewer people certified in offering animal-assisted therapy.
Far fewer households own dogs in Singapore too, so people are less accustomed to relying on dogs as a member of the family, she said.
Telly was a shelter dog trained by prison inmates.
Huang adopted Telly three years ago from Colorado, at a programme where prison inmates train shelter dogs to become service animals.
After several tests to determine Telly’s natural temperament, Huang selected her for further training for her future as a therapy dog, before the two came back to Singapore.
“Telly was the first dog that ran up to me and licked my face,” she said.
Singapore residents are slowly warming to the concept of therapy dogs. Other organisations such as SoSD Healing Paws and Therapy Dogs Singapore are volunteer groups which bring the furry therapists to elderly hospices or children’s homes to cheer up the residents.
“In this relationship with Telly, I think (Jarene) has found a space where she can just be totally herself,” says Sally. “And I think she’s starting to believe in herself as well.”
[H/T Our Better World]