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Featured Team

Kim Kane and Muffy

Kim Kane and Muffy

Written by Kim Kane:  Muffy’s trainer, partner, stylist and chauffeur

“Is Muffy coming today?”  “That’s the question I hear most from the pediatric patients as Thursday approaches”, says Stacy Smith, the Child Life Specialist at Kaiser’s Anaheim campus. “The kids who know her love their special visits with her and look forward to them.  The kids who have not previously met her are always impressed with her dance moves on the hospital floor.  She knows when to be silly and knows just the right time to snuggle close.  We are thankful to have Muffy and Kim visit us weekly. They make a wonderful team!” 

Muff and I have had so many experiences together and I’m always awed at how well she handles herself when the unexpected happens.  I’ll never forget the day we stepped off the elevator at Kaiser and heard the most awful caterwaul!  It seems a little 3 yr. old girl was giving the nurse a hard time. She had loaded a child-sized wheelchair with all kinds of stuffed animals and was trying to get her little patient to walk by pushing the chair, but she was having none of it!  When the nurse saw Muffy, she actually ran over and begged for help.  Well, we took the toys out of the wheelchair, put Muffy in, and that was the ticket!  The little girl pushed her all around the floor, and then the girl sat in the chair with Muffy on her lap and her mom pushed them both. Mission accomplished.

Another time, we really put our Delta training to the test.  As we were waiting for the elevator at the hospital, the fire alarm went off.  We stepped out of the way as staff began running everywhere, shutting fire doors, etc.  I could tell the noise of the alarm was painful, but Muffy stayed relaxed in my arms as we headed for the stairwell.  As you can imagine, lots of people were running down the stairs and didn’t notice the little black toy poodle, and she was jostled and bumped all the way to the lobby. She trusted me enough not to panic and I feel very humbled by that.

As a former resident of the Orange County Animal Shelter, she now occasionally acts as an ambassador for the shelter as she visits schools and libraries with Orange County’s Reading With Fido program. She entertains the kids while helping to teach responsible pet ownership.  “It’s very easy to see why everyone instantly falls in love with Muffy”, says Elizabeth Alianell of Orange County Animal Care Services.  “I have been fortunate to work with Muffy for the past two years and have witnessed kids who were hesitant to pet a dog immediately gravitate toward her. She has been beyond amazing helping kids in a myriad of ways.  She may be tiny, but her heart could not be bigger”.

Muffy has been delighting hospital patients, assisted living residents and school children of all ages since she became a Delta dog in June of 2005. Just months prior to passing the CGC, she was living at the Orange County Animal Care Center in Orange.  We adopted her at the age of six, and she jumped right into agility training but, due to her age, her agility career was pretty short.  Her true calling, it seems, was pet visitation therapy and she’s been a very busy girl.   She has retired from the Intermountain Therapy Dogs READ program where she worked at Villa Park Elementary School and Fletcher Elementary in Orange. I taught her to paw at the book when I said the word “page”. If our little pupil seemed reluctant to read, I would say, “That’s Muffy’s favorite page”, she would smack the book, and that would spur our reader on to finish.

Muffy began her career at Rosewood Assisted Living in Fullerton and recently gave up her last gig at Emerald Court Assisted Living, and the pet therapy team of Kim and Muffy will retire officially at the end of 2010.  Through all the years, she has never complained about having to be bathed every week, sometimes more than once; and though blind in one eye, she still dances at the sight of her visiting bag. And she is still very ready to “assume the position” on a child’s bed.  I call it “the sphinx”… a perfect down, sleepy eyes, and an attitude that says, “O.K., the adoration may begin”.  Muffy will be 14 years old when she gives up her little green vest, and she has a terrific retirement package awaiting her.

The Animal Health Foundation Pet Partners thanks Kim and Muffy for donating their time to help others.  Kim also very actively helps AHF Pet Partners at monthly evaluations, events and coordinating the READ program.  She is an outstanding asset to the group.

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