Canine helps GSSW alumna treat foster children

Alison Levy is using a mistreated and abandoned dog named Marley to treat abused foster children.

“His story mirrors the kids’ story,” Levy says. “They are both looking for a good home where someone will love them.”

Levy graduated from DU’s Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) last year with a master’s degree in social work and a certificate in animal-assisted therapy. She’s using the skills she learned at DU to treat foster children sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center.

During the 12-week program Levy has each of the children teach Marley a trick. By working with the dog, she says, they learn patience, tolerance, empathy and anger management. They also share a bond of love with the dog, she says, a bond that’s missing for many of the children she sees.

Sometimes when the children are frustrated by their inability to teach Marley a trick, they will yell at the dog. Because Marley was abused as a pup, he recoils in fear. Levy turns their frustration and Marley’s fear into a teaching experience by showing the children how feelings can be hurt by harsh words and anger.

Levy has had a lifelong affinity for dogs. Her GSSW training, she says, fed off that affinity and gave her the skills to help others through her love of animals.

“This is my passion,” she says.

Comments are closed.