I was looking into getting Eli a therapy dog for quite some time. One to keep him from wandering when we’re out in public and to help him calm down from tantrums. All of the nonprofit organizations for therapy dogs around here won’t help us until Eli turns 4, so until then I try and find opportunities for him to get used to animals. One of our ABA therapists took in a lost dog and I had her bring him to a couple visits. Most recently we offered to cat sit for my husband’s coworker.
The cat came over when Eli was napping and when he emerged from his room and saw a black cat outside his door he shut the door and hid in his room. When I came in to see if he’s ok he pointed past me and said “yeow. Yeow. Yeow.” The cat was scared the first few days and hid from all of us. But after a week has gone by the cat has really grown to like us, or at least just tolerate us; especially Eli. He calls the cat Yeowy. When he comes down from a nap and is looking for him he will walk around the house saying “Yeowy?? Yeowwy!!!” When the cat does something bad Eli will tell him “Yeowy no!”, when the cat is in his way he will say “Yeowy go!” when the cat is on the kitchen counter he will run up and say “Yeowy down!”. Of course because a cat is a cat, I try to be around to enforce Eli’s demands. I want him to know that he is heard but a young cat may not be the best audience.
The cat is going home soon and Eli will be sad; I on the other hand, am ready for it to go back to his home. However, I will say that I am glad we got to have this little experience because I got to see how Eli would react to an animal in the house. Now I want to get him a therapy dog even more! It gives him more opportunity to use direct language to another person besides mommy and daddy (he doesn’t address any of his therapists directly, he will do so more generally. Ex. Instead of saying “Richie go!” he will just tell him “go!”. When speaking to my husband and I he says “Mommy/Daddy go!”) With the cat he picked a name and addressed it directly, which I loved! I think he also got a real kick out of being in charge of something in the house! Overall I would say it was a very good experience for Eli!