Natan lived with his parents in a cold and unloving environment until he was ten years old. Both of his parents suffered from mental illness and refused to take Natan outside their home. He did not attend school on a regular basis and was unaccustomed to interacting with other children and adults.
When Natan was 10 years old his father was hospitalized for a long period of time. Israel’s Ministry of Welfare and Social Services was alerted and a caseworker visited Natan’s home. The caseworker determined that Natan’s mother was incapable of caring for him, and he was removed from his home by court order.
Natan was sent to Ahava Village for Children and Youth. Following a short stay in the Emergency Crisis Center, Natan was placed in a home care unit on the Ahava campus. Natan’s house parents and the therapeutic team quickly recognized that Natan was seriously in need of love, warmth, and attention, which his biological parents never provided. He spent many hours with the older staff, but was having a difficult time connecting with other children.
The therapeutic team determined that Natan would benefit from therapy with a social worker and animal therapy. He worked very hard, and with the help of his therapists, Natan began to open up and build friendships with the other children. Also, as a result of the pet therapy Natan felt connected to the dogs at the petting zoo. He asked permission to help care for the dogs and help maintain the kennel.
In a conversation with his social worker, Natan noted that by working with the dogs he had acquired a lot of confidence, which also influenced his ability to make connections with people. Today, Natan is 19 years old and serves in a special dog handlers unit in the Israeli Defense Forces.