Meet Cori, a water rescue dog who became a canine assistant for swimming instructors to help children with autism and other special needs.
The leading cause of death for children between 1 and 4 years of age is drowning. For children of ages 19 years and younger it is the third leading cause of death. When it comes to children with special needs, the numbers are much higher. As a matter of fact, it is also the leading cause of death for children with autism.
For this reason, Special Fishies.org provides canine assisted swimming instructions for special needs children. The children are often fearful and have difficulty connecting with an instructor. Depending on the disability they can be apprehensive, combative, and non-compliant. Which can be a challenge to typical teaching methods. To have a better understanding of what life with autism and other mental challenges feels like check out this related post.
This is where Cori comes in. The Golden Retriever’s physical presence alone already reduces anxiety and fears in the children. With her interaction in and out of the water, the children are gaining the trust and confidence to learn how to swim.
Cori’s life as a water rescue dog had a questionable beginning
When Cori was a puppy, she was actually afraid of the water. No matter what her owners tried, she just did not want to have anything to do with going into the water. Let alone to swim. Then, one day, a trip to the beach changed Cori’s life forever.
Cori loves kids, and on that day, children were playing on the beach and in the water. Cori suddenly decided that it all looked like fun, and began jumping toward the water. It didn’t take long and she started to swim and play with the children in the water.
It became apparent that Cori had a natural instinct of saving people from drowning, and her training as a water rescue dog began.
Cori, the water rescue dog becomes canine assistant
When Cori’s handler Deb Parker took her to the Waves of Empowerment Autism Paddleboard Camp, she met Jodi Powell. Jodi Powell’s son has sensory processing issue and they noticed that he was by far better with the help of the dog.
In order to help other children as well, they decided to develop a canine assisted swimming program. With Cori’s love for children and her training as a water rescue dog it was only natural that she got the job to be a canine assistant. Cori received a special life-saving vest with handles. This way the children can hold on to her. With the help of Deb’s son they began their work to perfect the techniques she needed to become the perfect assistant.
They hope that one day they can have their own facility. This way they could run the program year round. For people who can’t afford the program, there are scholarships available. Watch Cori in action.