Using a variety of animals from hamsters and fish to dogs and horses, animal-assisted therapy provides an opportunity for boys to give and receive unconditional acceptance and love. Animals ignite warmth in even the most withdrawn boy, putting him at ease and increasing his willingness to reach out and take risks without fear. Boys learn about proper care, handling, feeding and health care of animals. They also learn to have compassion, gentleness and respect for animals, other people and themselves.
New Leash on Life
At the forefront of animal therapy is the “New Leash On Life” (NLOL) program, which matches a CBRYC boy with a dog from an area animal shelter. Over the course of the 10-week session, the boy is required to provide his dog with proper care and training, eventually preparing the dog to be adopted by a new family. Since 1997, NLOL has enrolled more than 175 boys and 180 dogs, has been the subject of formal university research, and has been featured by such national news media as NBC Nightly News and The Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet. See our adoptable dogs!
The horsemanship program spans a broad range of activities: chores, grooming, riding, training, showing, health and nutrition. Besides the fundamentals of horsemanship, boys learn the essential nature of teamwork and self-control. The horsemanship program is accredited by the North American Handicapped Riding Association (NARHA). The Horsemanship Program has been featured by numerous national news media, including PBS’ The Nature Series.
Through CBRYC's small-animal therapy, boys work with a variety of creatures, including sheep, llamas, dogs, cats, ferrets, guinea pigs, rabbits, chinchillas, birds, sugar gliders, reptiles and fish. They research the physiology and environment of the animals, and the boys take responsibility for their feeding, grooming and overall care.
Through working with these smaller creatures, boys understand the fragility of life. They learn to control their aggression, curb their tempers and acquire gentility. They realize that violence, to which many of them have become accustomed, is not a healthy way to communicate and that living creatures, animal or mankind, respond positively to a loving touch. For some of the youth, it is the first time they have experienced a healthy relationship with another living being. The non-threatening nature of the animals also helps youth tolerate more threatening stimuli, such as exploring their painful pasts.
Members of CBRYC's 4-H program undertake individual projects involving horses, cattle, rabbits, sheep, llamas and crafts, which they may enter in local, county and state fairs. As a result, the boys learn leadership, responsibility and social skills while having fun.
The Cattle Program educates youth about livestock, range management and agri-business. It also teaches responsibility and leadership, promoting cooperation, optimism and hard work.