The Honorary Members of the Canadian Institute of Animal-Assisted Interventions
Dr. Aubrey H. Fine
Honouring the Memory of Deceased Honorary Members
Founders of Green Chimneys (Brewster, New York)
Director of the Royal Institute For Mental Health Research in Ottawa
Founding Chair, Alberta Alliance on Mental Health and Mental Illness
Founder of the Chimo Project on animal-assisted therapy (Alberta)
Author with Liana Urichuk PhD of the book
Improving Mental Health Through Animal-Assisted Therapy (2003)
How it all started for...
Serendipitously is the word that describes my discovery of AAI. I never had a pet until I was a young adult.
It was when I brought this tiny creature ( a gerbil) to a social skills training program for children with learning disabilities that I witnessed the power of the bond. A boy who was very impulsive asked to hold her. When told he needed to stay still as I placed Sasha in his hands, he smiled proudly after a few moments and noted, "I promised I would stay still and be gentle".
The outcome, unexpected and unplanned, started my journey of the last 46 years in exploring the efficacy of animal-assisted interventions."
"My light bulb moment took place when I was about 20 years old. I was invited to teach a group of adult persons who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and chronic psychosis how to ride horses. Many had been institutionalized much of their lives.
At the time, I knew more about horses than people and was perplexed by their unusual behaviors and mannerisms.
But as I introduced these individuals to horses, I watched changes that had to been seen to be believed. The most obvious one was the verbalization. Literally talking when previously unable or unwilling. I had no explanation.
I’ve spent the rest of my life trying to do just that. From that moment on, I have been fascinated with the power of connection between people and animals……"
"As a child my parents often took me to the Basel zoo in Switzerland where I was raised.
One day, when I was about six years old, we walked past a young woman zookeeper, who was throwing pieces of raw fish to the ducks. I watched her intently. She turned to me and asked, “Do you want to throw a fish?”- So I reached into the bucket and imitated exactly what she had done. I felt such responsibility and being trusted.
After that day I returned, again and again, to “help” her feed the birds. I then assisted more and more with all of the animal care during every free weekend, vacations etc. By the time I was 13, I knew a great deal about many animals and had started my life long work as an animal caretaker.
At Green Chimneys I see magical moments take place daily when children take care of our animals and are put in the role of caretakers - much like the moment when I was asked to help feed the ducks many years ago."
" Fired up, I broached the idea of opening a school for young children(...) It would be a boarding school for ages three to six. It also would be on a farm, so the children would have animals to play with and care for as I did at my schools. " Samuel B. Ross, Jr. The Extraordinary Spirit of Green Chimneys. Connecting Children and Animals to Create Hope (2011)
"As Myra says of that day (her wedding to Sam Ross) I married her and she married me and Green Chimneys. (...) At Green Chimneys, she has been Director of Admissions and Director of Quality Assurance. She was the Clinical Coordinator(...) Myra's achievements would fill a book by itself." Samuel B. Ross, Jr. The Extraordinary Spirit of Green Chimneys. Connecting Children and Animals to Create Hope (2011)
Dennis Anderson was just 11 years old when he tried to end his life.
Feeling neglected at home, he walked to the edge of a bridge and prepared to jump.
That’s when he felt his pet dog tug at his leg.
“When you’re young, you see somebody on television jumping off a bridge and you maybe don’t give it as thought as you would when you’re older,” said Anderson, who is a longtime volunteer and former Tory cabinet minister.
“If my dog hadn’t grabbed my leg … I would not have been here. That showed something cared.”
That experience stuck with him for decades and in 1999, it inspired Anderson to create the Edmonton-based Chimo Project, which uses volunteers and their dogs to treat people with mental illness. Edmonton Sun, August 28, 2012