Archive for the ‘Caring Creatures Teams’ Category

Meet New Pet Partner – Cassie

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Cassie Adinolfi

Cassie is a Chocolate Havanese and her birthday is November 26, 2012.

Cassie came into Deborah’s life when she needed a pet to help her through some difficult times.  Right away she brought so much joy, Deborah knew she had to find a way to share this gift with others.  That’s when Deborah discovered the Animal Health Foundation. I found the joy Therapy Pets brought to those in need and couldn’t wait to have Cassie bring that same joy to someone in need.

The AHF couldn’t be more proud of Cassie and Deborah, who both look forward to visiting nursing homes/hospitals to brighten an individual’s day.

Welcome Cassie and Deborah!

AHF Pet Therapy Team Comforts Patient With Severe Depression

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Mia for MissionIn November, Mission Hospital’s Behavioral Health Unit (located in Laguna Beach, California) opened their doors to a Pet Therapy Program, which has been offered by the hospital as a Community Benefit service to patients for the past 8 years. Over a dozen dedicated Pet Teams have volunteered their time in an effort to support the healing journey for patients, and most recently, two teams have opened their hearts to the behavioral health patients. Recently, staff shared a story of a patient who was significantly changed due to a visit with Mia, who has been a canine volunteer with Mission Hospital for 7 years.

“We had a patient with a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder who experienced major loss and was having a very difficult time coping.  She suffered with thoughts of suicide, insomnia, and severe social isolation. She had these symptoms for days and had not attended any patient groups. While she initially declined pet therapy, further prompting encouraged her to participate. Initially, she simply sat next to Mia, but after a few minutes, she began gingerly petting her and her physical affect began to change. She walked out of the group room with a small smile on her face. From this day until discharge, she became more and more visible on the unit, began sleeping better, and no longer had thoughts of suicide. We are convinced that she would have been here far longer if she hadn’t been given the opportunity to make that initial step to spend some time with Mia.”

It is connections like this one that make our work at Mission a sacred experience and help to bring wholeness to our patients, our co-workers and our community. Many thanks to volunteers Pam and Daleen who take hours from their day to prepare their dogs and spend time at our ministry; without them, these sacred moments would not be possible.

Meet Our Newest Pet Partner – Gracie

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Gracie McHolmCongratulations Sandy McHolm and Gracie who are the AHF’s newest Caring Creatures Pet Partner Team!

This is what Gracie says about herself:

“My name is Gracie and I am an AKC registered Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I was born in March, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. If you think it looks like I’m smiling, you’ve guessed right — I usually am because I’m pretty much happy all the time as long as I have somebody to pay attention to me. I live with my (much) older pet partner, Ben, who is also a Cavalier Spaniel. I love playing with my dog cousins who come to visit as well as meeting new dog friends on my daily walks. But my favorite thing is visiting with people of all ages and sizes. I was made to sit on your lap or play ball with you … and if you happen to have a little doggie cookie to share, I’ll never want to go home!!”

Pauline and Cinta Abbott are a new Therapy Dog Team!

Thursday, October 30th, 2014


Welcome new AHF Caring Creatures Pet Partner team member Cinta Abbott.  Cinta and her handler – Pauline – will bring oddles of smiles to everyone they visit.

“Cinta is a Maltipoo (Maltese/Poodle mix) who has been with our family since she was rescued at 2 years old.

She was a great companion dog for our elderly mother where she got use to wheelchairs and walkers. But she needed to get exercise and so she participated in dog agility classes learning to jump over obstacles, go through doggie tunnels, and weave around pole courses. In this picture, she is very happy going over a jump.”

Thank you Cynde and Shakai

Monday, July 21st, 2014

The Animal Health Foundation Board of Trustees thanks Cynde Carlton and Shakai for years of bringing smiles to those in need.  Shakai has been retired and will be taking a well-deserved rest at home!

Shakai TD

New Pet Partner Whitney

Monday, July 21st, 2014


Breed:  All American Mix

Birthday:  June 22, 2007

Handler:  Katy

Whitney is the ultimate sweetheart and quite the Mama’s girl.  When first adopted in 2009, Whitney was shy and hesitant to make new friends.  She’s grown-up a lot since then and has now become a very friendly, little pup.

Whitney loves taking walks, learning new tricks, and with her perky ears, she is always on alert.  She loves going to the park on Saturday for play dates with her doggie friends.  Whitney lives with handler, Katy, sister, Lilah, and cat friend, Bro.

Meet New Pet Partner Delilah

Monday, July 21st, 2014



Breed:  Cocker Spaniel Mix

Birthday:  May 26, 2011

Handler:  Katy

Delilah loves everyone she meets.  Her nickname is “Wiggle Butt”, because she is so excited to greet people, she can’t stop wiggling her bottom.

Delilah, or Lilah, was adopted from Camp Cocker Rescue in 2013 and quickly passed her Good Manners classes and Canine Good Citizen.  She loves hanging out in the park with her doggie friends on Saturday.  Lilah lives with handler, Katy, big sister, Whitney, and cat friend, Bro.

Cloud, Therapy Dove

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

cloud 3 READBy Daleen Comer

Cloud, my 5-year-old male Ringneck Dove, has been working as a registered therapy animal since October of 2010. He is a popular visitor to a senior day care in Mission Viejo, and he is also certified as a “Reading Education Assistance Dog” (or “Dove”, in his case). In his role as a “Reading Dove”, he visits children in an elementary school classroom on a regular basis, and the children read aloud to him. At the senior day care, Cloud is placed in an open basket, and he is carried from person to person. The seniors are encouraged to reach into the basket and pet him and talk about him. Many of the seniors have owned birds before, but smaller birds (canaries, parakeets) are not as docile and don’t permit handling.  Cloud’s gentle demeanor and quiet cooing make them smile. Many of the children Cloud visits have never had a pet. Their first question is always, “Does he bite?” I encourage them to pet him and see that he is very tame and friendly, and soon the students are feeding him seeds or shredded lettuce, and giggling at his attempts to pick up the treats from their palms. Cloud also participates in elementary school presentations about therapy animals.

cloud 4 with older couple Cloud was hatched in our home, so he has been handled regularly since he was a few days old. He enjoys riding in the car, going to different places, and meeting new people, so training him to pass the therapy animal test was easy. In the test, animals must be handled by a variety of people and tolerate loud noises and other situations they may encounter during visits.  Birds must wear a harness and leash, and must be carried in a basket for their safety. The most difficult part of the preparations was getting the equipment. The harness and leash were available for purchase (“Flightsuit” by Avian Fashions), but the basket and a carrying bag had to be made. Sewing is one of my hobbies, so I designed and made a tote bag with a flexible cage built in, so he could be easily transported from the car to the facility. I got a large basket and sewed in a lining and partial cover, so that he doesn’t try to fly straight up, as doves do not have their wings clipped. Cloud had to learn to stay in the basket for an hour, the typical length of our reading sessions. By sprinkling seeds in the basket and sitting with him, with the suit and leash on, I taught him to stay in the basket quietly

cloud 6 beauty shot (2) Cloud is registered with AHF Caring Creatures. Although a variety of animals can be registered, including cats, rabbits, birds, mini horses and llamas, most of the therapy animals in the group are dogs. Our senior and school visits are done in a group, with several therapy dogs and Cloud. Many of our dogs are of hunting breeds, so we have to be careful to keep Cloud at a distance. The dogs are too well trained to attack him, but if they are distracted, they cannot do their job properly. Because he is so quiet, the dogs are often not even aware he is in the room with them. Cloud even worked at AHF’s booth at a pet fair, at the same time as a cat and two dogs. None of the other animals even knew he was there, because he didn’t flutter around and make noise. Their quiet demeanor and positive associations make doves ideal therapy animals.

Cloud 1 in Tux (2)


Meet Cutie Hogie – Debbie Pfeiffer’s Pet Partner!

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

Hogie Pfeiffer

Welcome to AHF Caring Creatures Pet Partners Debbie and Hogie!

Breed:                  Lhasa Apso/Shih Tzu mix                                Birthday:              December 2006

Hogie is a very quiet and gentle little dog who loves everyone he meets.  My family adopted him from the shelter in 2008 at the age of two and because of his easygoing nature, it was easy to see what a perfect therapy dog he would be.  He became a certified therapy dog in 2011 and quickly wins over everyone’s hearts with his sweet personality and big brown eyes.

When he is not assisting people with pet therapy, he is a delightful family pet who loves going for rides in the car, seeing new people and places, and generally being included in everything that our family is doing whenever possible.

Welcome to Pet Partners, Diana & Massimo

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Brameltte & MassimoMassimo is an English Black Labrador retriever and was born at the Guide Dogs of America School in L.A. on May 2, 2011.  Diana was the puppy raiser for Massimo until he was 18 months old, which meant that he went everywhere with Diana and her family.  After that, Massimo went to “college training” where he learned how to do Guide work.  Unfortunately, he didn’t like to walk on manhole covers, so GDA made him a “career change dog”.  Diana’s family adopted Massimo and now, he’s pursuing his next career as a therapy dog!