Meet Brinkley—a five-year-old Labrador Retriever—and a Murphy-Harpst boy’s best friend.
Brinkley is helping this young man overcome tremendous behavior challenges. Like many of the abused and traumatized young people admitted to residential care at Murphy-Harpst, the boy (whose name must remain anonymous) has behaviors that are especially difficult to manage. “He has been with us around nine months, and we have been frustrated as an agency about how little progress he seems to be making despite the efforts from so many,” says Clinical Director Chip Carter. In fact, the child has required frequent emergency safety interventions (ESIs) to protect him from harming himself and others.
But with the help of Brinkley and the dog’s owner, Benae Davis, the boy has begun to make progress. Benae, who works as Data Entry Specialist, tracks ESIs and is very familiar with this boy’s struggles. She brought Brinkley with her on “the annual staff pet work day” to show off the dog’s soccer goalie skills with the kids. The boy became fond of Brinkley and, despite one angry episode with other children, the young man was able to calm down enough to get back in line to play again with the dog. This in itself was a huge accomplishment for the boy.
“After seeing that, I offered to bring Brinkley to play with the boy as a reward if he could have so many days of good behavior,” says Benae. “He earned his reward and did great when Brinkley was there. He behaved well enough in school on that day to come outside twice to play with Brinkley, and he behaved perfectly while he was with us.”
With a nudge from Brinkley and help from the dog’s clever owner, this troubled boy has just enjoyed his first victory.