Archive for the ‘Pet Therapy’ Category

The Power of a Therapy Dog Visit

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Recently retired team John Smead and Kasey shared the following experience with us at Children’s Hospital of Orange County:

John told us about a special day at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (Anaheim, CA):

Kacey and John went into a room with a 9 year old boy with leukemia who had not really been eating and didn’t even want to get out of bed.

When his mom read him the card that we give all the kids (there is a part that says she is a picky eater and shy when she meets people for the first time), he looked at Kacey…he then got out of bed and sat next to her and said “wow sometimes you don’t feel like eating either – nice to meet you Kacey”.

 

Kacey is Retiring!

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Thank you Kacey and John for being a great Pet Therapy Team and bringing smiles to so many people since 2009.

Kacey was born in January, 2008 and was adoped by the Smead family from the San Clemente shelter.  Kasey loves to fetch toys and chasing sea gulls at the beach. Kacey has 2 yorkie brothers and a papillon sister (who is in charge!).

John and Kacey started their therapy team journey in 2009.  They have been visited assisted living homes, CHOC and most, recently, the Juvenile Drug Court group sessions with adolescent boys.  John was so committed to the latter that he went back to school for his PhD to be able to participate!

AHF Teams Help Students Celebrate “Read Across America Day”

Monday, March 27th, 2017

 

For the second year, AHF Pet Partners teams helped students at John Adams Elementary School in Santa Ana celebrate Read Across America Day (March 2, Dr. Seuss’ birthday).

The nine handlers were assigned to two or more classes, where they read a story to the class, then let their dog visit with the students.  There were dogs on campus from 8:30 a.m.to noon. Some of the participating teams were the regular reading teams at the school, and they were joined by other teams who are considering joining the program, or work with children in other settings, such as CHOC.

The teams who participated were Dorrie Steele and Maddie, Val Draskovich and Nala, Jane Horsfield and Kiss, Katy Trumbo and Delilah, Sheryl Hagen and Grady, Daleen Comer and Macy, Doreen Weaver and Josiah (PP), Tammy Heider and Gracie, and Dorothy Taylor and Stryker.

Students, teachers, handlers, and dogs all had a wonderful and memorable morning.

Meet New Pet Partner Team Diane and Benny

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

benny-head

Hi! My name is Benny and I am a Golden Retriever. Everyone says I am a happy and fun loving boy! I enjoy playing with my toys, going on adventures, meeting new friends and swimming. I am really smart and can do some tricks. My birthday is January 6th. I will come running if you call my name because I can’t wait to meet you!!

 

Jane and Kiss named Volunteer of the year

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Kiss at OCMC page 1Jane Horsfield and her wonderful border collie, Kiss, were named Volunteer of the Year at Orange Coast Medical Center!  Congratulations Jane and Kiss!

Blue Giving Stress Relief During Final Exams

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Blue spreading cheer during finals

Welcome back Janell Keider and her new Pet Partner Piper!

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Piper Keider Pix

PIPER:

Breed: Flat Coat Retriever Mix

Partner: Janell Keider

 

Piper was just a puppy when she was abandoned in another country. Kind people rescued her, collected donations, and bought Piper a plane ticket to the United States so she could have a safe and loving home. We adopted Piper before she was a year old and could tell that she would be a great therapy dog – she loves people, especially children, and is sweet and gentle. She greets our cats each morning with a wagging tail and lick on their noses. She also loves to race around the backyard, playing “tug” and “chase” with our other dogs. We are so happy that Piper joined our family!

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!!”

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)