Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson is a counselor, lecturer, founder, and program director of the non-profit organization, Teacher's Pet: Dogs and Kids Learning Together. 


  • He likes dogs more, so what?

    Apr 06, 2010
    One of the adolescents in our dog program said the other day that he now loves dogs. Just like that. That might not seem like much of a stretch for a court adjudicated youth in a 12 week dog program, but to him a youth whose life revolved around getting high-- it was. He has a Maltese and a pitbull puppy at home and liked how they looked and liked the reactions that he got from others, but that's as far as it went. After learning about dogs and working with the shelter dogs we have in the program, he said he now truly loves his dogs at home and treats them better. I asked him if that changed how his dogs responded to him and he emphatically said yes! They never approached him before, but now, when he's home on pass, they sleep with him. From a therapeutic perspective, we might ask, so what? What can this do to help him integrate positively back into society?
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  • Children Who Abuse Animals

    Mar 16, 2010
    “One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it.” ~ Margaret Mead. We know that homes with family members who have domestic violence charges often have an animal abuser in the home. Sometimes those animal abusers are children. Statistics show that 6 ½ is the median age for the onset of harming animals…which is earlier than bullying others, acts of cruelty to people, vandalism or fire setting. For professionals, animal abuse by a child should be considered a warning that a child may be experiencing some form of psychological or physical distress.
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  • Animal Abuse Linked to Domestic Violence

    Feb 25, 2010
    Suppose you’re counseling a young girl and she mentions that her father kicks her dog when he’s mad. It was not made as an isolated statement, but more as a part of the discussion of life in her house. As a counselor, what comes to mind? Do you address it? Let it go? If we probe just a little, chances are, someone else in the house is being battered as well. Studies indicate that 88% of families who have been reported for child abuse also had an animal abuser in the house.
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  • A Legal Beagle: Using service dogs in the court room

    Feb 04, 2010
    We won’t see a dog practicing law any time soon, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see one in the courtroom. In fact, the practice is becoming more commonplace. Service dogs in the courtroom have been shown to be beneficial in breaking down the barriers of fear, distrust and anxiety, says one prosecutor, in order to get to the truth. Service dogs, offering unwavering emotional support and unconditional affection, can be useful in securing testimony from worried witnesses who might repudiate testifying against their known attacker.
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  • Aristotle and Cutie

    Jan 27, 2010
    As therapists, we are taught that who we are is based on the collection of our experiences. Aristotle said something like: as for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them. This is often forgotten in todays society where we tell children how to consider others feelings and we tell our clients how to forgive, but really, these constructs are only truly understood when they are experienced. Using experiential learning assists in helping clients make meaning from their experiences. Id like to share a story about a 15 year old girl who is in a court-referred residential placement and a scrappy, black lab mix with whom she worked in a program at her facility.
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