Special Sandy Hook Connecticut stories from our volunteers.
Therapy Dogs Make a Difference
Pets on Wheels volunteers and their wonderful canine companions came to visit the members of a group which is called Leaning to the Light. On most Mondays, from 1 to 3 pm, the Youth Outreach Center at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church is home to this group of delightful individuals with a variety of special needs. Each week, using News2You as a resource, the friends study the headlines of the week and participate in a variety of activities, related to the topic, to broaden their experience.
This week the paper featured hero dogs. Leanna Cooney, who leads this group thought it would be valuable to have a therapy dog to visit. Janet Clingan & Benny, Melissa McClellan & Sox, Laruen Sumwalt & Pip and Kay Bleinberger & Sailor all came. The gentle dogs and their loving owners helped our friends conquer fears and find joy in the companionship of the animals. By the end of the visit every one of us had been loved with sloppy kisses and cold wet noses.
For more information about this program as well as exercise day (Tuesdays), game day (Thursdays) and drama group, please contact Terri Cooney, Youth Ministries Coordinator and founder of the Beyond Capernaum Special Needs Ministry at Mt. Zion, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Mt. Zion at 410-836-7444.
Submitted by Terri Cooney
1632 E. Churchville Road
Bel Air, MD 21015
Last week when we were visiting at Carroll Lutheran Village, one of the dear
souls there was petting Winston and running his hands through his fur and
looked up and said, "When Winston comes to visit, it makes me smile for the
rest of the day!" Really touched our hearts!
Also, a new patient confined to a wheelchair was looking rather lonely when
we came in. We introduced her to Winston and she just couldn't stop
smiling. We began talking and I noticed her shoes -- shiny gold slippers!
I mentioned that I liked them and she said, "Oh yes, I do too. They're my
Although Winston may touch their hearts, they certainly touch ours too!
Jane and Jerry Hillyard -- And Winston too!
I visited Upper Chesapeake Hospital today with Fluffy as i do weekly. It is always a very rewarding experience but today was special day.
I entered a room today where a very elderly woman layed in her bed, looking very sad and lost. With Fluffy in my arms, I asked, as I always do," Hi, Would you like to say hi to the puppy?" Hesitantly her face lit up and she said yes. I went around to the side of the bed and we started to chat. I could tell she was a little scared. After a minute, i asked her if she would like to pet the puppy. She quickly said yes and reached out with some difficulty to pet Fluffy as I held her. Her face lit up. After a bit it was time for us to move on and I had noticed someone else waiting at the doorway. She begged us to stay, by now, Fluffy was laying on her bed between her and the bedrail. As i gently tried to exit, she said,"you know you should be honored". She said, " This is the first time i have ever pet a dog. I have always been afraid of dogs. My family had a dog for 17 years and i never pet it" As i eventually turned to leave, the other person entered the room. It was the Deacon.
I felt like today's visit was an extra special one for us and one of those extra special moments that makes what we do sooooooooo worth the effort!
Kay Bleinberger and Sailor, Golden Retriever, have been visiting patients in the hospital for a few years, before that she took her boy Magnum as a therapy dog. When Magnum retired Sailor accompanied Kay on their weekly visit to UCHC.
Sometimes patients and their families love to see a dog come in to visit, and sometimes they are not so sure. On just such an occasion Kay and Sailor asked a young man and his caregiver if they could visit. The young man was thrilled but the caregiver said she was afraid of dogs but they could come in as long as they stayed away from her.
The young man who had some serious health issues, as well as being autistic, began to pet Sailor and the caregiver was amazed he responded so well to the dog. She was standing by his bed side as she was very afraid the young man may come to harm or strike out at Sailor.
Sailor leaned over and licked the caregiver who drew back in fright. Then she looked down and saw Sailor smiling at her, as only a Golden can and she relaxed a bit. Slowly she started to pet him, exclaiming how soft he was, how gentle.
Before you knew it she was hugging the dog and telling him how great he was. She told Kay she was actually in therapy trying to overcome her fear of dogs. Then she said “If only my therapist could see me now”!
Thanks to Sailor and Kay, one more person lost their fear of dogs and had a night to remember...
Kudos to Kay for taking the time each week to bring some happiness to patients in the hospital.
This morning Kaytee Bell worked at Tudor Heights. We went upstairs to visit some residents who have dementia and need to be watched very closly. It was the first time up there. First we visited a friend of Kaytee Bell's who went up there a few weeks ago. We then went to visit a lady who is very adgitated and does not want to interact with anyone. Well, until she met Kaytee Bell. They were having a wonderful conversation and Kaytee Bell must have been telling her some funny jokes because the lady just kept laughing. Kaytee Bell touched the lady and she loved it.
Yesterday afternoon I went for a visit to Lighthouse Senior Living. I had decided that since I was taking Shu Shu to vet – while we were out I would swing by and visit. I got there a few minutes after 4pm and when I went thru to the dementia unit I was stopped by one of the nurses. She said that today was a perfect day for me to be there – because approx 5 minutes before I got there one of their longtime residents had passed away. Shu Shu had just been groomed the day before and everyone was tickled with her little bow and bandana. There were about 10 patients sitting in the common area – they were all having a good time watching Shu Shu playing with the nurse who was playing keep away with Shu Shu’s toy. She gave plenty of kisses to the residents (some even got 2 or 3) and that made them smile. The nurses all thanked me for bringing her in – they said it really helped cheer everyone up (including the nurses).
I just wanted to share something nice with you, when Jessie and I visited Holly Hill on Sat. one of the visitors asked if we saw everyone or if we came for one person and I told her everyone so she asked me to come see her mother on the second floor and we did, her mother can not move nor can she talk and I asked if it was ok if Jessie licked her hand and she said please let her so I did and her mother opened her mouth and her daughter said she is smiling and she even tried to make a noise and her daughter thanked me for what we do and I told her it was my pleasure. I have to say it made me cry on the way home and I think mostly because I could not believe just a few minutes brought both of them some happiness, I love doing this.
I thought I would share a picture with you of Nami visiting at Riverview. The main reason I started taking Nami to Riverview was because my grandfather was a patient there. So I took Nami when I was planning on visiting him, went and saw other patients and made him our last stop since we were going to be spending more time with him. He just passed away 2 weeks ago, so I probably won't be going back there much if at all... would be kinda sad...
He didn't smile too much in the last few weeks because he was in more and more pain, but I think it kinda looks like he is smiling here with Nami... maybe a little one. :)
I have been going with Chamios to Summerville in Westminster since Jan 14th. The first day we went, one of the aids told me to go and visit Jenny, she has Alzheimer’s and she doesn't talk anymore, she looks pretty sad most of the time. I took Chamois over near her and she saw her and smiled. We always make an effort to go see Jenny each week when we go for our visits.
3 weeks ago, Jenny was sitting on a couch in the TV lounge and Chamois went up to her, gently jumped up and put her front paws on either side of Jenny's hips, and proceeded to give Jenny 3 big slurp kisses. Jenny tossed her head back and laughed right out loud, the aid heard her and turned around and told me she has been working here nearly 10 months and has NEVER heard Jenny laugh like that before.
That's what a Therapy dog does best.... brings out the hidden treasures in people.
One patient on the long term care floor stood out in our minds on this visit. He was a young man, I would say in his 20's, and his arms, legs, feet and hands were all drawn up and curled, and his speech was very distorted and barely understandable. Steven, Daisy and I were walking towards his room and we saw him, and my son and I kinda of hesitated for a very brief moment cause his appearance was a bit intimidating, we didn't know if we should approach him or not, but we did. He looked at us, and we treated him as if nothing was wrong with, we asked him if he wanted us to bring Daisy in his room to see her. By his mumbles I could tell he wanted to see her. So, I picked Daisy up, carried her over to his bed, and he reached his crippled arm over, with his twisted hand, to Daisy and was able to rub her head for a bit. He was able to sort of smile, and mumble good dog a couple times with a crooked smile on his face. We told him we would be back to see him on our next visit, and he must of said thank you to us, in his own words, a dozen times, even as we were walking out the door, he continued to mumble thank you, thank you, thank you.
I just wanted to share that story with you. That particular patient really made an impact on both my son, and I.
this first email:
I’m taking Porky to Brightview tomorrow. One of the residents isn’t doing well. Porky got a phone call from Brightview yesterday asking if he would come and do a special visit to help lift her spirits. They said if anyone can help her it would be Porky, so I’m cutting my work day short to get him over there to try to help.
The second email to follow up:
Yesterday Porky got all dressed up (he looked so handsome), and we went to visit Elenor, to try and bring a smile to her face and boy did it work! Her face just lit up and she was kissing and hugging him and saying how adorable he is. Just a little background on this; Porky and Eleanor have had a special bond, since day one. For some reason, she is who he attached himself too, always goes right to her, and stays with her. All of the residents say Porky loves Elenor best. Porky has to take most of the summer off because of the heat and in that time, Elenor went down hill. So when he got the phone call to try and make a special visit to seeh her, we had but no choice to get there! It was great to go back yesterday and see Elenor cheer right up. Porky brought her a professional photograph of himself in a nice frame. Elenor couldn’t believe it was for her. She kissed it and said she was going to kiss it everyday! It was so hard to leave there yesterday. Porky was feeling a little famous. Everyone was buzzing around saying, “Porky’s here, Porky’s here” and everyone knew right where to find him, snuggled up to Elenor. I’m so glad Porky was able to help out in some little way.
up to the "Porky and Eleanor Story".
September 25, 2009, Porky and I set out for our weekly visit
at Brightview Assisted Living. Before heading upstairs to visit
with Eleanor, Porky made his rounds greeting everyone in the
lobby and lounge. He made sure he said 'hello' to everyone.
He was so happy and excited, but the mood quickly changed. I
was pulled aside to be told Eleanor passed away on Saturday.
As we headed upstairs, I thought to myself, how am I going to
explain this to Porky? Then I realized I didn't have to. Porky
ran right over to where Eleanor use to sit and he curled up
right in his spot.. . . He already knew. . . .
Loving Memory of Eleanor
the Funeral they mentioned that Eleanor had more pictures of
Porky in her room than her family.
other day while visiting Oakcrest, Casey walked by a woman
sitting in a chair. We kept walking up the hall when a staff
member ran after us and asked us to come back to the woman.
They explained that this woman had never spoken and when Casey
walked by she had said "dog".
So we went back to the woman and tried to engage her with
playing with Casey. Several times I threw the ball for him
and he eagerly returned it to her lap, once stepping on her
foot. She yelled "Get off me". Well, I thought,
this is good. She said three words. Maybe we can get her to
say more and the staff member was obviously pleased. I explained
to the woman that Casey had just stepped on her foot in his
excitement to play and continued to throw the ball for him
and Casey continued to return it to her lap.
She finally spoke some more. She said "I am scared to
death of the damn thing". The staff member apologized
to us but we all agreed it had been successful ...Casey's
job was accomplished! If you can't get through to them one
way, scare the hell out of 'em!
is a 26-yr old young woman challenged by autism. One prominent
effect, caused by this disease, is that it creates a variety
of fears in the individual.
when Jennifer was a young child, one such fear developed from
an incident while visiting my sister. They had a collie that
was very high strung. For whatever reason, although he may have
been abused by his previous owner, he did not like anyone touching
his rear legs &/or paws. Jennifer was sitting on the floor
next to him and decided to, innocently, pet his rear leg. Unbeknownst
to anyone, in a quick motion, the collie's reaction was a violent
growl and attempted to bite Jennifer on the hand.
point on, Jennifer has had a deep fear of any dog, large or
small. This fear remained for many years.
5 years ago, we came in contact with an individual who provided
a therapy dog, a golden retriever called "Marley,"
for such reasons. This person came to the house and Jennifer
was beginning to make progress with overcoming her fears. She
was able to groom and pet him. Unfortunately, after a few weeks
of visits, "Marley" became seriously ill and the owner
was forced to stop the sessions.
tolerance for many of her "demons" has subsided due
to therapeutic prescriptions. However, she remained very antsy
March, I was fortunate to locate and contact Vicki Rummel, of
Pets On Wheels Inc., inquiring about possible therapy sessions.
She put us in contact with Mr. John Williams who also has a
golden retriever named "Dusty." They both visit our
home on a consistent basis. "Dusty" is such a wonderful
dog for Jennifer! He is gentle and affectionate. In fact, he
would let you pet him "until the cows come home!"
He has the perfect temperament for an individual who has a strong
fear of dogs. Since they have been coming on a consistent basis,
Jennifer has made great progress in facing the situation. Both
have become friends. It did take some time, but she now pets
him on a consistent basis and even feeds him treats from her
has been a great success story for Jennifer and her situation.
Mr. Williams, his owner, is a true professional and very patient
and understanding of a person's situation. We have been truly
blessed to have come in contact with this duo. Thank you so
much to Pets On Wheels for their dedication and understanding
and I met with the Jeanie the activities director at Longview
Nursing Home last Monday morning. We were there approx. 45 minutes.
She gave us a tour and had us sign a volunteer registration
form. We also "visited" with 4 of the residents, which
was really unexpected because Jeanie just wanted to give us
a tour, meet with her, and rundown the rules, etc. It was really
nice! Gabriel received a lot of "ooohs & aaaaahs"
as well as comments on his size and how they "don't have
a big dog that visits," and "oh my... how much does
was really interesting, towards the end, as we were leaving, Jeanie
pointed out a room and told me that the resident in there doesn't
speak to anyone and probably won't be interested in Gabriel at
all. Ironically, as we passed her room and Jeanie was telling
me how anti social the woman was I heard someone calling, "WOW!!
That's a BIG boy!!! How pretty is he!! Bring him in to see me!!!
Helloooo.... please bring him back to see me!!" It was the
resident I was told was withdrawn. I told Jeanie I heard her calling
for us and then turned Gabriel around and went to her doorway
(she had been eating breakfast and watching TV). She was soooo
excited to see Gabriel, she was full of questions about him and
she was VERY animated! After our visit, and reassuring her that
we would visit again, Jeanie remarked on how very surprising that
was and she never expected any such reaction from that particular
resident. It was really nice and rewarding. I felt very proud
of Gabriel. For such a big clumsy oaf, he carried himself very
well and was such a sweet heart and he had his first elevator
ride! Just thought I'd share our first visit. Oh, of course, it
wasn't all peaches and cream... there was a resident who seriously
dislikes dogs; she was sitting in a wheelchair in the hallway
saying, "That’s a BIG dog!! Keep him away!! I don't
like dogs!! Keep him away." I did keep Gabriel away from
her and close to my side but of course, it would figure that the
person who wanted the least to do with him would be the one who
captured his interest. He REALLY wanted to snoot his way over
Guinness and I were leaving the hospital there was a family ahead
of us. The mom and dad and two elementary school age girls. The
girls kept turning around to look at Guinness. They finally stopped
their parents and they all were looking at Guinness. We approached
and I ask if they wanted to pet him and explained he was indeed
a friendly dog. The youngest ask if he was a "visiting dog"
and I said yes he was a member of the healing paws program and
that we were with pets on wheels. The little girl explained to
me (all the while running her little fingers through Guinness's
fur) they were reading a book in school about a dog that did visits.
She said the name of the book was "Rosie the visiting dog"
I told her "well you can now go back and tell your teacher
you met a real visting dog". I asked her if she would like
one of his cards and she gave a resounding yes!! Her older sister
took one too. They walked away very pleased that they had met
Guinness. Guinness was pleased he met two little girls.
and I had the honor of attending two very special days at Port
Discovery. We were invited to spend the days with children with
disabilities. He stood patiently when blind children ran their
fingers through his hair(and smiled) He stood very still when
six developmentally disabled children hugged him. He gave gentle
kisses to autistic children and lifted his big head onto the laps
of children in wheelchairs. He approached multiple handicapped
children very gently, he did not mind their jerky movements and
hi pitched squeals. There were some children that were afraid
of dogs but as the afternoon continued they were more comfortable
with their furry friend. We met the most wonderful parents and
children. One was a beautiful little girl named Raven. Guinness
and I both enjoyed meeting her and her mom. It was a wonderful
My name is Janet Stollenmaier. My dog is a 6 year old Pug named
Spaetzle. Every Monday night Spaetzle and I visit a group of people
in the parlor at Augsburg's Assisted Living. When we arrive ,”they”
are always waiting for us. Sometimes Ed and Elizabeth join us,
Helen stops by on her nightly walk and lately we've had some other
residents join us as well. The more the merrier - Spaetzle loves
all the attention. Sometimes we all just sit and talk about events
of the day or remembrances of the past. Sometimes we read funny
emails and sometime we celebrate birthdays. For Spaetzle's 5th
birthday I made a cake shaped like a bone and got party hats with
doggy paw prints on them and of course ice cream - Spaetzle loves
ice cream! I love to work in my garden and travel. My camera gets
quite a workout and everyone enjoys looking at the pictures of
all the beautiful flowers and most recently my trip to China.
I began making these visits in conjunction with Pets on Wheels
when Spaetzle was 1 year old. This is a wonderful organization
that has over 200 volunteers and 200 pets (cats, dogs, rabbits
etc) in the Baltimore/Harford County area. We visit at over 100
facilities in the area including hospitals, nursing homes and
rehabs. The experience has been so wonderful! The idea is to bring
some joy to the residents of these facilities, but most certainly
the joy that I receive is equal to any that I bring to them! I
look forward to seeing all their bright, shining smiles as Spaetzle
and I step off the elevator. Spaetzle just loves sitting in Dorothy
or Lily's lap or curling up on the sofa next to someone and being
petted. We all need to 'feel the LOVE' and clearly everyone in
that parlor on Monday nights benefits. Submitted by :Janet Stollenmaier
The ”Bear Momma’s “ have told me “they
really appreciate Janet’s visits not to mention her company
and the little surprises that she provides for us.” We don’t
know what we would do without her; she makes our Monday nights
a joy.”WE HAVE THE VERY BEST VOLUNTEERS!
Chief and I went back to Charlestown last night. I was really
nervous and I almost backed out. It's been about 4 maybe 5 months
since we were there last. I went in to our first friends room,
Dorothy, and I asked if she wanted some company. She turned around
and when she recognized us she started to tear up. She was so
glad to see us. We talked for about an hour and she kept saying
how much she missed us and she was glad we were back. I had no
idea that we made that much of a difference in her life. I apologized
for disappearing and I promised her we wouldn't do it again.
then went to Don's room. He's a bit of, well, a grump and I thought
he'd be less receptive. I was pleasantly surprised. He welcomed
us back too. We talked about the holidays and he said something
that was nice but a little sad. He said there is no lonelier feeling
than being in a place full of people who you don't really know
and most aren't very nice and the people who are nice are being
paid. He said he likes having someone who comes to see him because
they want to, not because they have to.
stayed with him for about an hour and told him I'd be back next
Monday and I will be and every Monday after that. I am going to
do my best to win back thier trust.
and I said our good bye's to the staff and we made our way out
to the car. I got in and cried my eyes out. I had no idea that
I made such a difference in their lives. I don't "do"
anything accept sit and listen and talk but it makes such a difference
in their world. I had no idea.... I'm glad I went back. Thanks
for helping me back on the horse.
took my husky to Holly Hill Manor on Sunday and she was doing
great. One resident was calling me and her from the hallway. I
went into her room and her face lit up like a Christmas tree.
Anyway she couldn't reach Xylia to pet her so I was trying to
have her put her paws up on the bed but when I patted the bed
she tried to make a flying a leap into the resident’s bed.
Well I stopped it from happening but she did try one more time.
The resident and I were laughing.
visiting pediatrics and 3 west on Monday I went down to the second
floor which is ICU and CCU. I am not allowed to visit these wings
but my daughter's father in law had been brought in for a stroke
and I knew that the family would be in the waiting room and I
wanted to see if I could do anything. Upon getting off of the
elevator I went to the waiting area where the family was. My son-in-law
has 6 sisters and 1 brother so it was pretty crowded. Magnum immediately
started to go to each and every person there one at a time, I
just let him do his thing off lead. Magnum is not easily dismissed
so everyone had to pet him, after all this is his job and he knows
it well. He really doesn't care if dogs are not you favorite "people".
He just assumes that everyone loves him. Ed's father seemed to
be comfortable and his vital signs were improving and due to the
hour and Ed's mother being very tired everyone decided it was
time to go home. As I started to walk out of the waiting area
a woman stopped me and asked if I could take Magnum back to see
her husband. I told her I was sorry but I was not allowed on the
unit she then asked if she could pet him, I said absolutely and
she proceeded to get on her knees and wrapped her arms around
Magnum's neck talking to him all of the time. Soon she was weeping
softly into his fur and he just set there as if to "say"
I know, I know, it will be all right. After she was finished she
got up and thanked me, I replied she was most welcome and I hoped
everything would be okay. These dogs are a gift from God, there
is no doubt in my mind about this. With the compassion that they
show no words need be spoken. I truly don't know what I would
do without my guys.
just so happened to come across your site tonight while looking
for things to do in the County. I honestly wasn't sure what I
had clicked on, but then I noticed it was the pets on wheels.
I love dogs and cats, so I thought I'd scroll down to look at
all the pics of the cute dogs. I finally came across one that
looked so familiar with that red bandanna around his neck! Yes
it was Magnum!! I know Magnum and his owner from an unfortunate
time that my daughter had to spend in the hospital in Bel Air,
MD, Upper Chesapeake Hospital. She was in there for 6 miserable
days (for a child even one day in a hospital is bad). We found
out that she had been suffering from a severe kidney infection!
Her fever would shoot up over 100* then down to normal, then back
up over 100* again and so on and so forth! She was so sad the
entire time, crying to go home, and missing everybody was so upsetting
to her. She started to become depressed, even though I was there
the entire 6 days with her, she seriously missed home. Then on
her fourth day she had an unexpected visitor. There we was watching
cartoons on the tv and with a knock on the door there was Magnum
with his owner! She was laying in bed when Magnum walked right
over to her bedside and laid his head right down on her bed right
beside her and just looked up at her like as if to say, "Everything's
gonna be alright kiddo." She lit up like sunshine through
a dark grey cloud! They stayed for a little while beings that
there wasn't that many other people on the pediatric ward. His
(Magnum) owner gave my daughter a card with Magnum's picture and
name on it. We have it put up now, but she had me hang it on her
bathroom door for the rest of the time we were there. She needed
that little lift, or boost you could call it that Magnum delivered
to her on that day! She still talks about him to this day. She'll
tell people about her visit from him and his owner when she was
in the hospital. And that was approx. a year ago! I want to thank
you and your volunteers that you have (both 2 & 4 legged),
for what you do! Keep up the good work!!
(Mom) & Jaycee (my daughter)
one of our visits to the Port Discovery Cassie and Cricket (my
two Shetland Sheepdogs) were in the Oasis area and two children
came in with their Grandmother. The Children wanted to pet the
dogs, but the Grandmother said "NO". One of the children stood
and looked at the dogs and the younger child walked away from
the Grandmother. The Grandmother went to see where the younger
child had gone. The older child asked me if he could pet my
dogs. I said of course, they are very friendly. When the Grandmother
returned she saw the boy petting the dogs and smiling. Of course
the younger child then wanted to pet the dogs also. The Grandmother
said "NO". The older child said "they are very nice Grandmom".
I asked the Grandmother why she did not want the boys to pet
the dogs and she said she had a bad experience with dogs and
was afraid of them. I explained that she should not pass on
the fear to the boys. The younger boy asked again if he could
pet the dogs. The Grandmother said "OK". The boys both smiled
and said thanks and went and looked at other displays in the
Oasis. I talked with the Grandmother a little more and before
she walked out of the room she took the time to pet the dogs
and I think she even walked out with a smile on her face.
& Cricket in the news. (10/2007)
Cabby, and I went on our first visit to Charlestown yesterday.
It all went very well and it was very touching. One 99 year old
lady who had not responded to any staff stimulus smiled broadly
when we put her hand on Cabby. She took my hand and pulled me
towards her as if to thank us without speaking. The Charlestown
staff were very excited since that was the first time she smiled.
We will make a point to see her when we visit next.
the "heart" on his side )
was our first visit to Best Care and Senior Connections. It went
very well. Already I have a nice story to share - as I was leaving
Senior Connections, Markus and I were passing one of the clients.
She reached out her hand to pet the dog, so of course, we stopped.
The director, Jane, was amazed. She said; "Oh my goodness, that's
the most we've seen her do in months!" Can you believe that?!
This is exactly what makes Pets on Wheels such a wonderful concept!
remember one touching experience where Gwen who we taught to do
a few tricks and like cuddles made the day of a woman who was
recovering from a severe stroke. The nursing assistant asked us
to visit a woman who had had a rough day and was weeping from
loneliness. After Gwen tried to entertain her with a few tricks,
we realized this woman needed a hug and contact with the dog.
Gwen who is a mini aussie wiggle butt could not wait to make friends.
We asked if Gwen could go on the bed and sure enough our Gwen
wrapped her paws around the woman’s shoulders and snuggled into
her neck as she often does to give a hug. The woman smiled and
without saying too many words stroked Gwen who instantly responded
with a big kiss. The woman told us she had not had her family
visit and missed her dog. We stayed for awhile. We learned later
the woman’s stroke had extended and she had been rushed back to
the hospital. I am a nurse and realize how much it means to patients
to have touch with others and Gwen gave her that unconditional
love that day.
and I enjoyed our visit to Hannah More School on Monday. The old
building houses the Senior Center and the School in the new building
is directly behind it. The Social Worker met us and introduced
us to various staff as we walked to an area where the boys and
girl came outside. We decided since it was such a beautiful day,
we'd stay outside. The teenagers were terrific, asking questions,
petting Indigo and telling me about their pets. I have no experience
with Autistic or emotionally disabled children, but I would never
have known there was anything different with these kids.
wanted to take us for a walk, so several of the Staff came along
and our entourage checked out the athletic area and some of the
grounds. They wanted us to stay for lunch and to see their classrooms,
but I knew our time frame ended at 9:30am.
& Indigo (2nd story)
know Pets on Wheels works and here is my first hand experience.
Indigo and I go to The Villa and Blakehurst's Health Facility.
There's one lady there who I've known through the years but she
wouldn't remember me. I recognized her right away but when we
stood in front of her, on our first day, she just sat there mumbling
quietly. On our 7th visit she looked at Indigo sitting in front
of her and reached out her hand to pat her head. It was a real
thrill. She also quietly asked me how much she ate. I was so stunned.
When I told the staff they couldn't believe it. Today was our
8th visit. I saw Marion twice and when I mentioned I'd seen her
earlier in the Art Room she corrected me, saying she was in the
Activities Room, which was quite true. I just had the wrong name.
I thought that was fantastic that she knew the dfference. And
then she started telling me about her son and his Service Shepherds.
Now I'm not sure about that but the point was she was talk ing
in a normal voice, not mumbling to herself, and her face lit up
and she was animated. I couldn't believe it.
At both facilities Indigo is well received. They always ask how
much she weighs and how much she eats. I think she's really getting
into the swing of things. She has a fan club at each facility.
The nuns are always so appreciative of her visits and two of them
have boxes of doggie treats for her. She does quite well.
a quick update on our visits to the sick kids in the hospital...
the staff knew that it was Crook's birthday last week and really,
wanted to have a celebration for Crook as well as something special
for the kids. We walked in and there was a sign saying Happy
Birthday, Crook, and there were streamers and crepe paper around
the trees. They brought out tables for the kids and had craft
materials to decorate foam picture frames in shapes like
a dog house, a bone, a cat (equal opportunity). They also
provided goodie bags for the kids and a present for Crook. In
addition, they printed a picture of Crook on sticker paper
so the kids could wear his picture. They always ask
the kids if they want a picture taken with the dog, which most
of them do, and then they made frames and decorated them with
bones and other doggie things. It was fun, and the parents
really enjoyed the break in hospital routine and some even brought
out their infants for pictures.
of the kids took Crook for a walk around the forest (the
play area with a sliding board and trees). This is very beneficial
because many kids don't want to get out of bed, but they will
get up and moving if they can walk the dog (even dragging along
their IV poles). They also get very excited when they tell him
to "sit" and he does! Then we showed off
his "high five" and and a couple things we are
working on, which aren't perfect yet, but they like seeing him
doing stuff. I know they appreciate us and that makes
me feel good about what we are doing.
has just gotten a new little sister, so she will eventually be
helping out when she is older.