Tag: therapy dogs
There’s a new counselor on the staff at Loyola University in Chicago, and he’s helping students cope with everything from homesickness to the stress of final exams.
He’s a 5-year-old black Labrador retriever, named Tivo, and he’s on duty every day at the university’s Wellness Center.
Seeing a need for a therapy dog, Loyola last year asked Tops Kennels in Grayslake to help find a candidate. The kennel suggested Tivo, who, after some additional training, became a certified therapy dog.
He’s on duty from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m, and lives with the Rev. Justin Daffron, Loyola’s associate provost for academic services.
Already immensely popular with students, college officials expect Tivo to stay busy in the week ahead, the Chicago Tribune reports. Final exams start today at Loyola, and Tivo has a way of helpling students, at least for a moment, shed some of the stress that builds up.
“They’ll come in, pet him, he’ll wag his tail, lick their faces, if they want their faces licked,” said Joan Holden, associate director of the center. “If you’re a dog lover, being with a dog makes you feel better. He’ll show his tummy, wag his tail — all the things to make you feel good.”
But Tivo doesn’t just sit in an office all day, according to an article about him in Inside Loyola.
“We use Tivo with patients for calming, for outreach in the residence halls, and to be sent out with a human counselor in hopes that students can come and pet the dog as a way to connect with the Wellness Center outside the office,” says Diane Asaro, the center’s director. “It is our first time trying it, and he has already gotten such a positive and wonderful response.”
Tivo also serves as a surrogate pet to the many students who are missing the dogs they left behind, noted David deBoer, associate director and clinical psychologist at the Wellness Center.
“Tivo really serves as a comfort, pleasure, and joy for college students; a friendly reminder of the comforts of home,” he said.
Students can keep track of where “Talk With Tivo” sessions are being held through his Facebook page.
(Photo: Tivo gives some counseling to student Marc Rosenbaum; by Mark Beane / Loyola University Chicago)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 29th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, chicago, colleges, counseling, dog, dogs, exams, final, homesickness, labrador, loyola, pets, retriever, stress, students, talk with tivo, therapy, therapy dogs, tivo, universities, university, wellness center
The “K-9 Comfort Dogs” are part of a Lutheran Church Charities program in which the specially trained therapy dogs serve to calm and connect with injured survivors.
As was the case in Newtown, the comfort they provide tends to extend far beyond hospital room visits.
“We have people simply walking by on the sidewalk who see the dogs … and with the memory of Monday, they break into tears,” said Rev. Ingo Dutzmann, senior pastor of First Lutheran Church in downtown Boston, which is serving as home base for five of Lutheran Church Charities’ dogs.
“It’s the dog that allows them to express their emotions in that way,” he told NBC, “and if you’re hurting, you’ve got to let it go. With a dog, people are not afraid to do that.”
On Tuesday, three comfort dogs flew from Lutheran Church Charities’ headquarters near Chicago to Boston, where they joined two golden retrievers who had been working with grieving pupils and parents at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
The five dogs and their handlers will spend the rest of this week visiting bombing survivors at Tufts Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and they’ll keep making hospital rounds next week if needed. The dogs will also be present at First Lutheran Church of Boston at noon today for a memorial service and on Sunday morning for worship services.
“It’s relaxing — takes my mind off of what happened,” said David Yepez, 15, who is recovering from surgery at Tufts Medical Center after being hit in the leg by shrapnel in Monday’s blast. “It’s good to have my mind away from the accident, the doctors. To have a moment of peace. [I haven’t] had many moments of peace.”
The dogs paid a visit Wednesday to Lee Ann Yanni (seen above), just before she underwent surgery on her shattered leg.
“My stress level has gone way down,” said Meghan Bennett, a 25-year-old nursing student who has been caring for bombing victims. “I just love dogs … and this is a distraction from the reality. Patients’ faces light up when a dog walks into the room.”
(Photos: Lutheran Church Charities)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 19th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bombing, bombs, boston, boston marathon, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, calming, comfort dogs, community, david yepez, dogs, emotions, golden retrievers, goldens, grief, hospital, injuries, k-9 comfort dogs, lee ann yanni, lutheran church charities, marathon, Massachusetts General Hospital, newtown, pain, pets, sandy hook, school, staff, therapy dogs, tufts, Tufts Medical Center, victims, visits
Today is my father’s 89th birthday and, while he’s spending it in a skilled nursing facility in Arizona, I expect he’ll see a friendly face or two, at least one of them canine.
Therapy dog Henry Higgins, who belongs to one of the physical therapists at Mission Palms, has formed a pretty close friendship with my dad — to the extent that my dog Ace, were he aware of it, would probably be jealous.
The closest we could come to a real visit from Ace was putting his image on the front of the sweatshirt that my father will be getting — probably a few days late – for his birthday.
But until he has Ace on his chest to wear on his chest it appears — at least from these pictures Henry’s owner sent me — he’ll have Henry to bring a smile to his face.
And, even though I’m thousands of miles away, and it’s not my birthday, mine, too.
(Photos: By Cristina Higgins)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 14th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aging, animals, assisted living, bill woestendiek, birthday, dog, dogs, elderly, happy birthday, henry, henry higgins, mission palms, pets, skilled nursing, therapy dogs, woestendiek
As my soon-to-be 89-year-old father continues on a long uphill road to recovery, there’s a dog helping him get there.
Somehow, that makes me — being, until last week, on the other side of the country – feel more comfortable.
More important, I’m guessing it makes him — being a hard core dog lover — feel more that way, too, as well as more motivated, and more at home in a strange place.
I’ve long argued that most every kind of facility where humans are gathered needs at least one dog — be it prison or school, be it office or shop, be it assisted living center, group home or skilled nursing center.
So I was thrilled when I learned my Dad was working with a therapist with a dog, and even more thrilled, when I arrived in Phoenix for a week-long visit, to get a chance to meet them in person and watch them in action.
My dad became ill last year, entering a hospital with stomach problems and suffering a heart attack while there that would lead to an induced coma of several weeks.
Once he came out of it, he had to relearn things like eating and walking, and — having a lot more fight in him than most people — he made great progress during his stay in a skilled nursing facility in Mesa called Mission Palms. His recovery was so quick and so surprising the facility did a write-up on him in its monthly newsletter: “William Woestendiek’s Success Story.”
After several weeks there, he moved on to an assisted living center.
There, unfortunately, he regressed, to the point he was returned to the same skilled nursing facility, where he was fortunate enough to be assigned to a therapist named Cristina, and her dog, Henry Higgins.
Henry, now about a year and half, has been working at Mission Palmsy since he was three months old, and the first thing I noticed about him was how he made everyone’s face light up upon seeing him, both patients and staff, and definitely my father’s.
For starters, they played some fetch, which required my father hoisting himself out of his wheelchair and throwing a tennis ball. My father did the work, but I think the anticipation on Henry’s face — as he sat there looking at him, patiently waiting — provided the encouragement.
After that, a putting green was hauled out and my father tried to sink some putts, as Henry looked on.
Henry is a pointer-setter mix, with long brown hair from his tail to the top of his head, but short hair on his muzzle. Cristina, who chose him from a friend’s litter, said “he was the biggest, ugliest one, just a big huge fur ball.” Out of all the pups, she said, he seemed the most sociable and interested in humans. You can see Henry’s Facebook page here.
I know surgeons and doctors probably deserve most of the thanks, and are the main reason my father is still around. I know too that nurses — and he’s been fortunate to have some exceptional ones — can make all the difference in the world in times like this.
But as for right now, amid all other uncertainties, as my father spends at least a couple more weeks at Mission Palms, I’m probably most grateful that he’s in the capable hands of a caring therapist and an encouraging dog
(Photos: Courtesy of Henry)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 28th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bill woestendiek, dogs, facility, health, henry, henry higgins, illness, medicine, pets, recovery, skilled nursing, therapy, therapy dogs, william woestendiek
Having no front legs didn’t stop Kandu from getting around. And it didn’t stop him from becoming a therapy dog. Maybe it even made him a better one.
It was seven years ago that Ken Rogers and his wife Melissa, of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, saw a piece on the news about a dog missing his front legs who was in need of a home.
They adopted him, and didn’t stop there, taking in other disabled dogs and a handicapped cat.
“We tend to adopt pets with disabilities and do everything we can to try to help them,” Ken Rogers told KUSA, which reported on the amazing dog in Januray..
Now both Kandu and Lucy, who also lacks front legs, make regular visits to the Yampa Valley Medical Center, where Melissa works, to bring hope to the lives of others — as shown in the video above, by the good news website, HooplaHa,
Seeing their determination, the couple decided both dogs would make great therapy dogs.
“It shows people if this dog can do it, you can do it too,” Melissa said.
“We don’t think they’re any different than any other dog,” said Ken. Kandu proves that regularly, living up to his name.
“… Nothing’s going to stop him,” he said.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 3rd, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, attitude, can do, colorado, devices, disabilities, disabled, dog, dogs, kandu, ken rogers, legs, melissa rogers, no front legs, pets, steamboat springs, therapy, therapy dogs, Yampa Valley Medical Center
A team of golden retrievers has arrived in Newtown, Conn., to comfort those impacted by the recent school massacre.
About ten therapy dogs, part of a Lutheran Church Charities program, made the 800-mile journey from Chicago over the weekend, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“Dogs are non-judgmental. They are loving. They are accepting of anyone,” said Tim Hetzner, president of the Addison-based organization. “It creates the atmosphere for people to share.”
Their first stop Sunday was Christ the King Lutheran Church, where funerals for two of the slain children were being held this week.
The dogs are made available to residents who want to pet them while they talk or pray.
“You could tell which ones …were really struggling with their grief because they were quiet,” Hetzner said. “They would pet the dog, and they would just be quiet.”
Dogs in the program most commonly visit people in hospitals and nursing homes. Each has his or her own Facebook page, Twitter account or email address, allowing those they meet to stay in touch. You can find the list of dogs who made the trip on the Lutheran Charities website.
The program also has a Facebook page.
The comfort-dog initiative started in 2008 at Northern Illinois University when a group associated with the charity brought their dogs to campus after a gunman shot five students before taking his own life.
Since then it has grown to 60 dogs in six different states.
The program’s dogs have responded to other disasters, including Hurricane Sandy and the tornado that hit Joplin, Mo.
Hetzner said the dogs would be available to Sandy Hook Elementary School students for after-school activities.
(Photos: Lutheran Church Charities)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 18th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, calming, children, comfort, comfort dogs, disasters, dogs, effects, elementary school, grief, guns, impact, loss, lutheran church charities, massacre, newtown, pet, pets, pray, sandy hook, schoolchildren, schools, talk, therapy, therapy dogs, tim hetzner
Last time we checked in on Ricochet, she was riding the waves, teaching the disabled to surf, and raising gobs of money for good causes in the process.
Now Surf Dog Ricochet, as she’s still known, is involved with a program that allows individuals with speech disabilities to communicate with their dogs by using an electronic voice, via an iPad.
Ricochet, who’s also a therapy dog, is shown here reacting to commands given from an iPad electronic voice through the TouchChat app without any cues from her handler.
The app allows people who have verbal disabilities as a result of Autism, Downs Syndrome, stroke, or other causes to communicate directly with a dog, giving them a sense of independence, self confidence and control.
Ricochet’s working with the Poway Unified School District Transition Program, through the therapy dog organizations she belongs to — Paws’itive Teams
Paws’itive Teams trains service dogs to assist mobility-limited persons in achieving greater independence and, through educational presentations and animal assisted therapy, enhances the lives of persons living in San Diego County.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 5th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, commands, communication, disabilities, dogs, electronic, ipad, obey, pawsitive teams, pets, poway, ricochet, schools, speech, surf dog, surf dog ricochet, therapy dogs, touchchat, video, voice
Gabriel, a weimaraner, passed away more than two years ago, but the therapy dog organization named after him, Gabriel’s Angels, is going strong.
In the 12 years since it was formed, consisting only of Gabriel, the organization has grown to 160 human-animal teams, and the dogs have visited more than than 13,000 abused, neglected and at-risk children, according to a story worth reading in this week’s Arizona Republic.
Gabriel’s Angels got its start about a year after Pam Gaber got the weimaraner pup.
She was volunteering at Crisis Nursery in central Phoenix, and every Friday she’d share photos and tales about her dog with the children.
For a holiday party, she brought Gabriel along with her for the first time, and dressed him as a reindeer. She noticed more smiles, more laughs and a greater sense of calm among the children. Recognizing the benefits a dog could offer them, she searched for a therapy dog group specializing in working with at-risk children. Finding none, she created her own.
A neighbor heard about it, and Gabriel’s Angels soon had its second therapy dog — a golden retriever named Sugarbear. A few months after that, they were joined by Auska, a bouvier des Flandres. By 2002, Gabriel’s Angels had 25 teams in the field; a year later, that number had doubled.
Today it has a waiting list of agencies requesting weekly visits — more than can be accomplished on its budget.
Gabriel’s legacy lives on, both through the organization, and the book Gaber wrote in 2011, ”Gabriel’s Angels: The Story of The Dog Who Inspired a Revolution.”
Gabriel’s Angels works to teach children confidence, tolerance and respect. As the Arizona Republic story recounts, much of that could be seen during a visit one of Gabriel’s successors, Tucker, paid to Crisis Nursery, whose education manager Cindy English, pointed out:
“Even children who have withdrawn behind walls of their own making — perhaps necessary to survive — will start to emerge in the safety of a friendly, lovable animal … These kids have been hurt or lied to by adults. But around an animal, they show love and caring. For some it might be the very first meaningful connection they make.”
Posted by jwoestendiek November 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, arizona, at risk children, children, crisis nursery, dog, dogs, gabriel, gabriel's angels, pam gaber, pets, phoenix, therapy, therapy dogs, weimaraner
Vivian Peyton, a pit bull mix and former bait dog, was honored as a Purina Therapy Dog Ambassador.
Vivian was in the second graduating class of Philadelphia’s New Leash on Life USA, a program that, unlike some similar ones, actually sees dogs and inmates become cellmates.
It’s aimed at helping both dogs in need of homes and inmates in need of job skills. Poorly socialized or misbehaving dogs, through the training, get a better chance to be adopted; the inmates, in addition to getting a break from their otherwise mostly lonely and idle existence, learn to be dog trainers.
New Leash on Life USA is currently training their fifth class of dogs, with 28 dogs scheduled to graduate, according to a press release.
Vivian, was rescued by New Leash on Life USA and spent three months completing the prison training program.
When she arrived, she was wounded, severely underweight and apprehensive around people, but it only took a few days for her to come out of her shell. She went on to pass her canine good citizen test in prison.
Then she was adopted by Michele Pich, a Veterinary Grief Counselor at PennVet. Vivian, now a certified therapy dog, comforts grieving pet lovers and visits children at the Ronald McDonald House.
“We are incredibly proud of Vivian Peyton for showing the resiliency of animals and what can be accomplished with love and care,” said Marian V. Marchese, the founder of New Leash on Life USA. “She will always be New Leash on Life USA’s ambassador dog.”
(Top photo courtesy of New Leash on Life USA; bottom photo, of Vivian and Pich, by Connie Kang / Daily Pennsylvanian)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 19th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption, ambassador, animals, bait dog, counselor, dogs, grief, michelle pich, mix, national dog show, new leash on life, new leash on life usa, pets, philadelphia, pit bull, prison, prison dogs, prisons, program, purina therapy dog, rescues, shelters, socialization, therapy dog, therapy dogs, training, veterinary, vivian peyton
Haatchi, a three-legged Anatolian shepherd, will be honored today by the International Fund for Animal Welfare for helping a 7-year-old boy with a genetic disorder face the world.
Owen Howkins, who has a condition known as Schwartz-Jampel, which causes his muscles to be permanently tense, was withdrawn and afraid to leave his house until his family adopted Haatchi, according to his parents.
Now both he and Haatchi are blazing new trails.
Haatchi is receiving an Animal of the Year Award today from the IFAW in a ceremony hosted at the House of Lords. The award is being presented by Queen guitarist Brian May.
Haatchi lost a rear leg after being hit by a train. He recovered and was later adopted by Colleen Drummond, her fiancé Will Howkins and his seven-year-old son Owen, who live in Hampshire.
“Before his arrival, Owen didn’t like going out — he was practically agoraphobic,” said Drummond. “When he first started school, he became more aware of being different, and he became even more withdrawn.”
But Haatchi, in addition to being a steadfast friend, brought Owen out of his shell, and seeing Haatchi cope with three legs has led the boy to feel differently about his own condition.
Seeing the change led Owen’s parents to get Haatchi qualified as a therapy dog. Now just over a year old, he’s scheduled to make regular visits to amputee soldiers rehabilitating from injuries suffered in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as sick children in hospitals and hospices.
Other IFAW award winners this year include former Olympian Fiona Oakes, from Essex, who runs a sanctuary for 400 rescued animals, veterinarian Vikki Fowler, who rescues and rehabilitates neglected horses, and Julie Hinks, who cares for and rehomes tortoises, many of which are rescued after being smuggled into the UK illegally.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 23rd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: anatolian, anatolian shepherd, animal action awards, animal of the year, animals, awards, brian may, disorder, dog, dogs, genetic, haatchi, hachi, hatchi, ifaw, international fund for animal welfare, owen howkins, pets, queen, Schwartz-Jampel, shepherd, therapy dogs