Even in Mumbai …. Therapy Golden Bruno

mun2.jpgIt is heartwarming to see that therapy dogs are making a difference worldwide. The organization Animal Angels Foundation is a Mumbai based organization run by Rohini Fernandes and Radhika pic-rohini.jpgNair who are clinical psychologists, certified practitioners of animal-assisted therapy and professional dog trainers.

This wonderful organization is one of over hundred that we detail in the National Therapy Dog Group listing at our foundation’s site.

Rohini is shown here with her Golden girl Angel. She is Rohini’s co-therapist and the inspiration between the name of the group, Animal Angels Foundation.

In a recent article, I learned about Bruno’s making a difference.

Despite having been through several therapy sessions, seven-year-old Pramodini—an autistic child—had never spoken a word—until she met Bruno, a Golden Retriever, who handed her a paw in greeting during their first meeting. Ten ball-throwing sessions with Bruno later, therapists had managed to teach Pramodini her first word: ball.


Therapy Golden Retriever Chief is making a difference

This is Golden mix Chief and he is from Golden Beginnings Golden Retriever Rescue in Texas. He has been partnered with Tammy Renaud, an occupational therapist and founder of Jumpstart Therapies, a volunteer group, providing animal assisted intervention services to rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, pediatric clinics, psychiatric centers, and more in Central Texas. This group is one of many detailed at our National Listing of Animal Assisted Therapy groups at our foundation’s site.

Click here to see how Chief is in the news for helping children gain confidence and skills. And, be sure to see the cool video of Chief in action as he helps his new friend Leya

Chief is taking over for Tammy’s retired Golden Xena, shown below.


Therapy Golden Retriever Tucker: Fun Stories & Video!


These donated toy Hummers are incredible, don’t you think? I just love this Star Bulletin photo from Cindy Ellen Russell of Tucker with Kassian Neal at the Kapiolani Medical Center.

Nine-year-old Kassian Neal raced a 4-foot-long plastic Hummer down the pediatric floor of Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children as if he were in the Indianapolis 500.

Ahead was 8-year-old Ryder Lum, who swerved his battery-operated mini Hummer, leaving nurses and parents cheering.

Kapiolani Medical Center currently serves 76 children as in- and outpatients.

Kassian, diagnosed in October with osteogenic sarcoma, a bone cancer, had his left leg amputated. Lum, diagnosed with a brain tumor, just finished his fourth treatment for chemotherapy yesterday.

“This is a scary place to be. … if we can help minimize that anxiety or fear of our children, then we want to do that,” Smith said.

As the two boys took the wheels of the Hummers again, a beaming Pflueger added, “It’s just one of those little things that a lot of people in Hawaii do (to) help our neighbors, to put smiles on their faces.”

I am thrilled that these kids in Honolulu have such a wonderful hospital member.

Tucker was trained by the wonderful folks at Hawaii Canines for Independence, a non-profit organization based on Maui that provides trained therapy dogs and service dogs for the disabled. They are included in our foundation’s huge listing of such organizations all throughout the US and also worldwide.

Tucker can do something that no medical personnel can. He can allow the children to retain some of the fun aspects of just being a kid, lovin’ on a dog, as the realities of cancer treatment often robs children of their innocence and wonder.

There is much that the following article says about Tucker’s ability to bring smiles.

His days are filled full of hugs, plenty of petting, and even a few show off tricks. Tucker’s work, training, and handling is paid for through donations. When we followed him, the four legged therapist gave a little canine care to nine year old Kassian Neal. Kassian had to have his leg amputated back in January due to Osteogenic Sarcoma, a type of cancer that often affects the leg and knee. This time Kassian is in the hospital for his cancer treatment.

Kassian says, “He (Tucker) makes me feel good, and he is super energetic, he is playful and sometimes he just lays down in my bed and does nothing.”

He says when he sees Tucker he gets a little tickle inside his heart. “I don’t really get that many visitors and he likes to lick me on the face a lot”, Kassian adds.

Tucker goes to Kapiolani Medical Center to visit the kids about five days a week, he lives with Ellie his handler. But he’s not going anywhere any time soon, he’s on loan to the hospital for about ten years. He works a total of about 4 hours a day with a “paws” or two in between visits.

Kapiolani CEO Martha Smith says, “And then he will nap he comes down to administration to have quiet time and nap in my office and it’s wonderful to have him here”. He also visits nurses and doctors, bringing a little happiness and ease in what can often be a stressful work place.

On Kassian’s last day at the hospital, Ellie gives him a little stuffed animal that looks just like Tucker. So, Kassian can bring a little good memory home with him.

Golden Tucker just celebrated his 2nd birthday at the hospital and it really looked like great fun. Click here to see a wide format video of the festivities. It just warms the heart.

Therapy Golden Retriever Ruca


Four-legged healers at the hospital – Hospital patients happy to have visits from dogs
By Edward Stoner, Vail Daily News

VAIL – Ruca jumped up onto Vic Gaglione’s hospital bed. Vic’s eye – the one that wasn’t swollen shut – brightened as he petted the golden retriever. “Dogs just have that natural love,” he said.

He missed his own dog, he said, as he played with Ruca. It was Gaglione’s third day in the hospital. A few weeks ago, the snowboarder had fallen at the Breckenridge terrain park – on the 85 foot jump, he said. “I caught my toe edge, I guess,” he said. He was diagnosed with an infection in his orbit, a cavity in his skull.

Ruca’s owner, Simone DeVine, got ready to take Ruca to the next patient. “You can leave her all day,” Gaglione said. “I’m OK with that.”

There’s more . . . .

Remembering Therapy Golden Retriever Brea

CHS loses dedicated volunteer
By Natalie J. Ostgaard, City Editor

BriAnna Kappelhof lays on the floor of Crookston High School
Guidance Counselor Jackie Robertson’s office with Brea.
(Natalie J. Ostgaard, Photographer, 2005 photo)

Crookston High School lost a dedicated volunteer Thursday when Brea, the therapy dog who’d been a mainstay at the school for nearly six years, passed away. “She was just in school earlier in the week,” said Jackie Robertson, the CHS guidance counselor Brea has been a constant companion to since starting with the school right after 9/11. “So she was a fighter to the end.”

Although Jeanie Andringa, owner of Golden Breeze Kennels and co-proprietor of the “Paws Helping Hands” program, was actually Brea’s owner, both women have said Robertson probably spent more hours with her than anyone else over the years.

Brea had slowed down considerably in recent months, Robertson said, but they assumed it was because of her age. She was a senior citizen, after all, at 12 1/2 years.

Andringa called Robertson Tuesday to say Brea wouldn’t be in school that day as she just didn’t seem to feel well. A visit to the veterinarian determined she had an inoperable cancerous mass and that her lungs were filled with fluid. It would only be a matter of time, but Robertson was hoping she’d stick around a little while longer.

“I’d spent several hours with her, went home, and then Jeanie called me back,” she explained. “We had to let her go so she wouldn’t have to suffer. Her death was quick, peaceful and painless.” “She was a tough old bird,” Andringa added. “She never let on that she was sick.” Golden retrievers generally have a life expectancy between 11 and 14 years, so Brea lived about as long as she could, she said. She never had puppies, as she was spayed at a young age.

CHS Principal Richard Koop made the sad announcement at school Friday so the students would hear firsthand about Brea. “This just shows how much respect she earned there,” Andringa said. “It was the highest compliment for her, to have the principal, who’s quite busy with other things, personally make the announcement.”

Andringa went on to say she and her husband, Mike, very much appreciate the support the school has given the therapeutic dog program through the years, which started with her dog, Lad. Brea has been at the schools the longest, although Easton, another of Andringa’s golden retrievers, has been a fixture at Highland for a few years now.

Brea’s passing leaves CHS without a certified therapy dog to help calm even the most agitated students and assist them in their educational ventures. But Andringa said Bella, a golden retriever owned by Jeff and Melissa Perrault, has been training for the job in anticipation of Brea’s retirement and would be coming to the school this spring or early next fall.

A litter of pups born to Andringa’s dog Kizmet 14 weeks ago also brought a surprising turn for the therapy dog program. Although she intended to sell them all, after taking her to the schools a few times, it was decided that one particular little girl, Gracie, would someday carry on the torch for Brea.

“She’s already very in to tune to the school, the students,” she said. “I’m able to bring her without her chewing on the kids. It’s just her personality. She’s going to be great.”

A tribute . . . Robertson wrote this tribute to Brea:

Please let me tell you about my angel, my healer, my hero.

Six years ago, Jeanie and Mike Andringa introduced me to this beautiful six-year-old golden retriever and asked me if I would ever want to have her in my office as a certified therapy dog. The next day, Brea pranced into the school, tail wagging and eager to come to work. Her unconditional love, undying devotion and limitless loyalty towards the students and staff brought out the kindness in everybody.

Miraculous things happened when Brea was around. She instinctively sensed someone’s pain and hurt and her customary response would be to lay by them waiting to, perhaps, be patted on her head, or better yet, received a hug. Brea never discriminated. It didn’t matter to her the color of your skin or if you were rich or poor. There was always enough warmth and gentleness to go around. She was a reservoir of comfort and love.

I am filled with deep gratitude to Jeanie and Mike for so unselfishly sharing this beautiful dog with me for all these years and for giving me the gift to be with Brea at the end. I got to say good bye. I got to tell her how much I loved her. I got to kiss her soft fur one last time. As painful as it was, I knew it was time to let go. Her work here was complete. Our trusted friend touched the lives of those who knew her. I miss her.

My life has forever been changed because Brea was in it.

Therapy Golden Retriever Molly — loving her job

Furry bundle of cheer best kind of therapy
BY MEGAN REITER, Times Tribune staff writer

HONESDALE — When Molly walks into the room at the Good Shepherd-Wayne Memorial Inpatient Rehabilitation Center, every patient has a smile waiting for her. But Molly isn’t the patients’ favorite therapist — she’s their favorite therapy dog. Every other Monday, she and her owner, Leslie Dennis, visit with patients, who have the opportunity to pet Molly or throw her toys for a game of fetch. “It’s one of our best-kept secrets,” said Hope Wormuth, an occupational therapist at Wayne Memorial Hospital.

Molly has been visiting the unit for about two months, but the 5-year-old golden retriever has been a therapy dog for years. Mrs. Dennis volunteers her time and also takes Molly to a local nursing home and a program for at-risk teens. And Molly, who was wearing a fluffy, green St. Patrick’s Day collar, loves every minute of the attention she receives.

“Basically, I’m just her chauffeur, but I’ve met some fabulous people,” Mrs. Dennis said.

There is more . . .

Golden Retriever pups aid autistic kids

Puppies give aid to autistic children
By Nate Hansen, Larson Newspapers

The gate to Fran Elliott’s Sedona acreage opens and an incoming vehicle is greeted by a half-dozen blurs of yellow incited by wagging tails and shaking hindquarters — excited and panting golden retrievers approach the car from all sides.

Elliott, a 20-year resident of Sedona, is the director of the Hairy Angel Foundation. The purpose for her organization is to provide service dogs for autistic children.

Elliott appears on the circular driveway. With a kind command followed by praise, she calls the dogs to return and heel. “Welcome,” Elliott says, smiling.

Peabody, a female puppy, leans into a stranger’s leg, yearning for attention. Pet her, Elliott encourages. These service dogs thrive on love, she says.

Elliott’s foundation incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Sedona 12 years ago. It began after she discovered the comforting benefits an autistic child received from one of her furry friends.

She says she can’t explain the connection, but for some reason the golden retrievers and children find a common bond. “They provide unconditional love, exercise, a sense of responsibility, protection and are used by the children’s therapists in animal assistive therapy,” Elliott adds.

There’s more . . .

Golden Retriever Moose relieving pain for others

Since recovering from near-fatal injuries, Moose the dog is helping patients in Cedarville heal
By Jean Bilodeaux, Herald and News

CEDARVILLE – The child is screaming in pain when he enters the Surprise Valley Medical Clinic. Dr. Chuck Colas examines the child and finds he has a dislocated elbow. As the boy continues to cry, a golden retriever rushes from a nearby office and runs to the child. The dog, Moose, soon distracts the boy and he stops crying. “He does that on his own,” Colas said. “It bothers him to hear kids crying.”

Colas thinks Moose reacts to children crying because he knows what it’s like to be in pain.

A Sunday drive
Colas was on a Sunday drive to Alturas when he saw a co-worker and her husband, Lee and Jim Haily, on the side of the highway. He stopped to see if they needed help. The couple said a golden retriever had been hit and left to die. “The dog was severely injured and couldn’t stand,” Colas said. “If I’d had my gun, I would have shot him to put him out of his misery.”

Colas and the Hailys agreed to split Moose’s veterinary bill. “We took the dog to veterinarian, Ryan DePaul, who diagnosed a collapsed lung, bruised liver and some minor scrapes. The dog’s owner wanted to put him down.” “I asked if I could have him and they gave him to me,” Colas said. “People think that because I’m a doctor I saved the dog. I didn’t. Ryan did all the work.”

Moose completely recovered from his injuries. Not only does he help frightened children, but he visits patients and residents at the Surprise Valley Hospital.

There’s more . . . .

Golden Retriever Tessa is sharing motherhood

Golden retriever proud mom, ‘house dog’ at the Twin Rivers Care Center
By L.A. Jones, Union editor

Call it maternal instinct. Almost five-year-old Tessa is quite naturally more fond of her 10 golden retriever puppies than the much older senior residents at Twin Rivers Care Center in Anoka. But you wouldn’t be able to tell it the way Tessa splits her time between feeding her 10-day-old litter and giving her much-sought attention to the seniors and the strokes they so need.

“It’s just the touch, the feel; they (the residents) put them (the puppies) up to their faces and they love it,” said Felicia Paulzine, nurse in charge at Twin Rivers who brings Tessa and her pups in every day that she works. It’s a routine that has roused the spirits of the residents for about eight months since Tessa first made her presence known at Twin Rivers.

“This is a great thing,” said Suzanne Havemeier registered nursing assistant. “The residents really love it.” “The ones (the residents) who get agitated, we can usually bring them out here (to the lobby area) and it calms them,” Paulzine said.

Tessa has been what owner Paulzine calls a “house dog” or “facility dog” since she was about five months old. She has learned to answer to her name when a resident calls her and more importantly to give that resident the affection they so much desire.

The Twin Rivers residents who had become so attached to Tessa were also very much a part of her pregnancy, following her courtship with Kokey, a golden retriever stud from Oklahoma, at every point along the way. “It was kind of an arranged thing,” said Jacquie Lewis, activities director at Twin Rivers Care Center.

Once Tessa had her little ones, it didn’t take long for the entire staff and all the residents at Twin Rivers to find out about it, either.

There’s more . . . .

Golden Simba starting his new career


Dog helps lift patients’ spirits
By Catherine E. Toth, Advertiser Staff Writer

Video: Meet Simba, the newest employee at Rehab hospital

Whenever Jane Koseki gets a visit from Simba, a 70-pound golden retriever, her mood changes. Suddenly, she’s not a patient at the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific, learning how to walk after losing her toes to diabetes. She’s a dog-owner desperate to be reunited with her 11-year-old Shih Tzu, Hubby.

“I miss my dog so much, it was just wonderful to hold him,” said Koseki, who hasn’t been home in more than a month. “Just to be able to feel Simba gives me the reassurance that my dog is waiting for me at home.”

Simba is the first and only resident therapy dog at the rehab hospital, which treats nearly 8,000 disabled or injured patients a year. His first day on the job was Feb. 6.

Under the supervision of therapists, Simba works five days a week, visiting patients and helping make their lives a little easier. He even gets mandatory vacation — one week every three months.

There’s more . . . .

Of course, man’s best friend


Man’s best friend aids in therapy
By Patsy Brilla, The Daily Press

Ani comes to work every Thursday or Friday and participates in client specific treatment regimens, helping motivate the achievement of a wide variety of goals and objectives. Clients often report, “Working with Ani makes me try things I would never have attempted.”Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is the use of specially trained animals and knowledgeable clinicians working together to increase the client’s ability to become more independent and facilitate positive changes in a therapeutic setting. Golden Living Center-Court Manor, Ashland has been very successful with the addition of AAT, or “pet therapy,” along with the established geriatric enhanced modalities, or GEM, program to provide an alternative to the traditional rehabilitation services offered by occupational therapy.

Many different animals are used in AAT. The therapy dog used at Golden Living Center-Court Manor is Ani, a delightful three-year-old golden retriever with an exceptional disposition; she has received her Canine Good Citizenship Award and passed the Therapy Dog Certification Analysis and is a member of Pet and Pals therapy dogs. There are several reasons why AAT has proved to be successful:

• Pets are non-judgmental, forgiving and accepting; they don’t see disabilities like humans, creating a positive safe atmosphere for the therapy session.

• Clients are often fearful of the anticipation of pain and discomfort associated with the rigor and monotony of typical exercise programs. Pets offer a distraction to the pain a client may feel.

• Motivation to participate with human-animal interaction facilitates the process of working toward goals and objectives.

Some of the goals and objectives addressed with the assistance of the therapy dog are increasing flexibility and strength in many areas of the body such as the upper and lower extremities and the cervical and lumbar spine, working on abdominal strengthening and trunk balance required when sitting unsupported, addressing weakness by increasing strength and endurance by grading the activity, increasing fine and gross motor skills and improving standing balance.

Also addressed with the help of the therapy dog are vision deficits, such as visual tracking and scanning. The AAT sessions have also reduced anxiety and stress in many clients. All of this is done in a calming therapeutic setting with the client, a skilled clinician, the therapy dog and her volunteer. Balls with varying textures, sizes, and noises, Frisbees, combs and brushes and weights are some of the items used as the media that the clinician uses with the client, consistently working toward the goals. The clinician documents the progress to meet the requirements of insurance companies.

Heavens to Golden Betsy: GReat Teacher’s Pet

betsy_special_education_classroom.jpgTeacher’s pet – Teacher uses service dog in Mattawa classroom
By Mike Johnston, Daily Record

Betsy, a 50-pound, 2 1/2-year-old golden retriever, climbs into a van every weekday morning at 6:30 in Kittitas for a 40-minute commute with teachers heading to Wahluke School District in Grant County where the dog is an important part of a special education class.

This is Betsy’s second year of work in a 13-student life skills class at Mattawa Elementary School run by Kittitas Valley resident Tracy Arlt of Fairview Road. Her students, ranging in age from 5 to 10 years old, have a variety of physical, mental and developmental disabilities. “Just like all of us, Betsy comes back on the van with us to Kittitas around 4:30 in afternoon pretty tired from her job,” said Tracy, 43, a valley native who came back to the valley in 2004 with her husband and fellow teacher, Richard Arlt, and their four children. “When I got Betsy, I knew she would help the class, but I didn’t realize how much. I’ve seen Betsy help make a huge difference in some kids’ lives.”


One young elementary student with neurological issues came to Tracy’s class in spring 2006 because he was disruptive in a special ed class and needed help controlling his behavior. When he was brought to Tracy’s class he immediately went underneath a table and stayed there. “He was very withdrawn, nonverbal and painfully quiet and shy,” Tracy said. “He would rock back and forth under the table. We sent Betsy under there to be with him.”

Betsy, with her big, wet-brown eyes and soft, warm fur, leaned gently against the boy on the first day. On the second day the boy put his hand on Betsy; on the third day the boy was hugging her; and on the fifth day the boy put his arms around the dog’s neck.

As the dog came out from under the table, the boy did, too. Tracy said the boy learned how to do discipline exercises with the dog, and all this gave the boy confidence and a sense of focus and control in his life. “He’s now in a regular classroom setting,” Tracy said. “It completely turned him around. It was absolutely amazing. Betsy provided a calming, friendly feeling of assurance and acceptance.

Service dogs

Tracy, now into her 15th year of special ed teaching, was at Papa Murphy’s in Ellensburg three years ago and met a woman with a service dog in training. Tracy learned from the woman that such dogs also are trained to help in classrooms and are especially good with disabled children. “I kept thinking I had students who could benefit from a dog like that,” she said.

Tracy, with her interest sparked and her love of animals, went online to research the possibilities. She found a Massachusetts-based nonprofit group called the National Education for Assistance Dog Service, or NEADS. After more research and talks with her principal and reviews by the Wahluke School Board, obtaining a dog was approved. The district in late August 2005 sent Tracy to Boyleston, Mass., for intensive training with Betsy. The district paid for the flights to and from, expenses and the $600 fee for the dog.

Tracy built a strong relationship during this crucial week with Betsy. “All along I’ve received great support from the school district, from staff in my school and from parents and students,” Tracy said. Tracy returned to work a week and a half after school began in September 2005.

The motivator

Betsy is a great motivator in the classroom with her lovable, gentle personality and forgiving attitude when inadvertently roughed up by the kids, Tracy said. Time with the dog helps kids learn to focus, be more still and control their social behavior. Students learn they can have time controlling the dog when they can work to keep themselves in control.

A kid reluctant to practice reading is asked to “read” to Betsy and the student suddenly is motivated. Students struggling with impulse control learn to take turns walking or brushing the dog. In one case, a child not wanting to learn how to roll the wheels of her wheelchair was told she could walk Betsy alongside her wheelchair. The child quickly learned to move her wheelchair. Betsy also brings a calming influence to situations when a child is anxious or physically acting out frustrations.

Tracy is now the state representative for NEADS, a certified trainer of teachers using service dogs and has made presentations about using service dogs at teacher conferences.

There’s more…..

Golden Rehab: The Only Way to Go

Rehab goes to the dogs
Animal therapy makes waves in local hospitals

By Marsha Sills, The Daily Advertiser

AnnaMae’s head popped off of her paws as she heard 6-year-old Bryson coming down the hall. “AnnaMae!” the boy shouted. Minutes later, Bryson didn’t hesitate to open his hand, grasp a tennis ball and pitch it to play fetch with the golden retriever.

“Sometimes they don’t realize that what they’re doing is therapeutic,” said Phyllis Comeaux, director of pediatric rehab services at Women’s and Children’s Hospital. “Their focus is on the dog.” For the past six months, the hospital has incorporated AnnaMae, a 7-year-old golden retriever, into physical therapy at least twice a month for pediatric rehab patients.

AnnaMae and her owner, Pat Richard are a team. They are members of Pets for Health, a local group that advocates pet therapy at nursing homes and hospitals. The group organized in 1998 and is affiliated with the Delta Society, an international nonprofit that promotes the use of animal service and therapy to impact human health.

Animal-assisted therapy doesn’t only mean visits to a nursing home or physical rehab units. Animals are often used for therapy of troubled children and at correctional facilities.

AnnaMae and Richard have even visited young children in schools who have trouble reading. “These children were too shy or wouldn’t read in front of other people,” said Merlyn Hering, director of Pets for Health. “It was easier for them to read to a dog without a fear of someone laughing at them. It was like magic. The teacher was thrilled.”

Be sure to watch a movie clip of this sweetie on the job by clicking here.

There’s more…..

Golden Bailey Stimulating Speech


All in a (dog) day’s work
Animal assistants now play a role in healing and recovery

BY Alison Freehling, Daily Press

Every few minutes, Shani Ha glanced hopefully at the door of her speech therapist’s office and patted her leg – the sign language motion for “dog.” When a panting, tail-wagging golden retriever named Bailey shuffled into the room, Shani was instantly more excited about doing her vocal exercises. “I want ball, please,” the 5-year-old York County girl signed to therapist Amanda Beavers, struggling to mouth some of the words. When Bailey caught the somewhat slobbery tennis ball tossed his way, Shani, who has Down syndrome, beamed and danced.

“The dogs are such a motivator for the children,” said Beavers, one of several therapists who has started using specially trained animals at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters health center in Newport News. “They relax or they get so excited that they just try harder and cooperate more.”

Shani was working with a therapy dog when she put together two spoken words – “Go, dog” – for the first time, Beavers added. “My mouth just dropped in amazement,” she said. Those are the kinds of results driving a growing movement to pair animals with patients who have a wide range of physical and mental disabilities, including heart disease, dementia, cerebral palsy and autism.

While dogs and other critters might be only a small part of a therapeutic program, research has shown they can motivate patients and bring real improvements in blood pressure, anxiety and pain levels. In response, doctors and therapists have moved beyond such well-known concepts as guide dogs for the blind or furry visitors to cheer up patients at nursing homes and hospitals.

At CHKD’s Peninsula center, physical, speech and occupational therapists started using dogs from the hospital’s expanding “Buddy Brigade” several months ago and now get about two visits a month. The team of 28 dogs, whose owners volunteer their time, have trained to work with patients and taken tests to make sure they have gentle temperaments.

The dogs can help with a wide variety of skills, therapists say. Children who lack mobility or coordination can walk the animals, throw balls or take their leashes on and off. Kids who don’t like to be touched can pet them to feel different textures against their skin. At a recent appointment, one boy honed his fine motor skills by scooping out a little peanut butter as a treat for Bailey.

“He fed the dog, and then he took a bite of food himself,” said Rhonda Allen, an occupational therapist. “A lot of the kids get really into the dogs. We do a lot of experimenting with what works well. There’s no book on doing it – we’re just adapting the exercises that we usually do to include the dogs.”

There’s more……. 

Golden Rainier on the Job


Pets make hospital rounds, bring ‘therapeutic touch’ to patients
By Susan Phinney, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter

They may not have medical degrees, but in some places they have staff name tags and status that entitles them to breaks, beds, toys and water bowls. Rainier the rehab dog has a station in the medical rehabilitation gym on the fourth floor at Harborview Medical Center. His “dog-mother” is physical therapist Amy Icarangal, and she’s been taking him to work at least once a week for more than five years. And when this 8-year-old is around, everyone is all smiles.

On a recent Friday morning, he was with patient Shawna Caffey, who was working on upper body strength, sending a buoy flying along a line and back — a sort of horizontal yo-yo. Caffey, recovering from an accident, said Rainier makes the environment happier.

“It’s more relaxed, and it takes me away from thinking about my situation,” she said, squirming in a body brace and carefully transferring from wheelchair to therapy bed, where she was soon joined by Rainier.

“Dogs wag tails, motivate patients to take a step,” said David Frei, director of communications for Delta Society, a Seattle-based non-profit that’s been introducing professionally trained animals to people who have mental and physical disabilities for almost 30 years. Frei, a former Seattleite, has been a spokesman for the Delta Society since 1999, but he now lives in New York City where he’s also director of communications for the Westminster Kennel Club. His two Brittany spaniels do volunteer work at a Ronald McDonald House where his wife is a chaplain/therapist.

“People with pets do have healthier lives, better mental health. It was anecdotal for years, but now there are studies that demonstrate the therapeutic touch,” Frei said. “If you pet a dog, cat or a horse, it raises the level of good hormones in the body” and eases stress.

A 1999 study done at State University of New York in Buffalo involved two groups of stockbrokers already taking medication for hypertension. One group had pets, the other did not. Researchers put both groups into simulated stressful situations. Those who had pets went from 120 to 126 for systolic blood pressure. Those who had no pets went from 120 to about 148.

“Dogs are best because they’re so responsive, so in tune with people,” Frei said. He said the Delta Society mainly certifies dogs, but some cats, at least one potbellied pig and a pygmy goat have also passed the society’s training programs. Rabbits can also be good therapy animals because they’re quiet and soft, he said.


C.J. Boehlke rolled into the Harborview therapy room and played what the therapist called “a really mean game of keepaway” with Rainier. The ball flew between Velcro-covered paddles, Rainier chasing it back and forth. When one finally landed within dog-range, Rainier got even. He caught it and didn’t give it back until it was fully slobbered.

There’s more…….

Therapy Golden Sadie

Teachers say therapy dogs signify ‘unconditional love’
By Liz Shepard, Argus-Press Staff Writer, The Argus-Press Owosso, MI

PERRY – Counselors can offer understanding and support in many ways, but few can offer the unconditional love and understanding Sadie can.

For two years, Sadie, a 3-year-old golden retreiver, has partnered with Perry Middle School counselor Therese Grant in both teaching and comforting the middle school students, spending time in the counseling office as well as in classrooms when students are having a bad day, Grant said. “Students receive unconditional love from these dogs – they don’t care what you look like or what type of clothes you wear,” said Grant. She talked with Chris as he pet her certified therapy dog, Sadie, during a counseling session.

Unwrapping a fruit candy after feeding Sadie a dog biscuit, Chris DeVinney said spending time with Sadie is beneficial because she helps him calm down when he becomes angry over arguments with friends. He’s used to having a dog in school after attending Perry Elementary, he said, where counselor Cindy VanPelt now brings her great Pyrenes Elle as a therapy dog.

“I feel more relaxed, and she helps me focus – it’s hard to explain,” said the seventh grader as Sadie slept across his feet Thursday morning. “(Sadie) is definitely an asset – especially in middle school when they sometimes just need a friend,” middle school teacher Nancy Head said.

Sadie visits Head’s room at least once a day, sometimes stopping by for dog biscuits that are always readily available and sometimes upon request by a student who needs special company. It allows (the student) to be special for that hour,” Head said. “Sometimes they don’t have anyone to sit with and they need that company and sometimes they are having a rough day – and who doesn’t need a lick once in a while?”

Head said Sadie is also a form of motivation for her class to stay focused and on task because they know if they are distracted by the dog, Sadie will have to return to Grant’s office.


A Rejected Golden Elliot?

Retriever is golden at job – He may be a show reject, but he’s top dog to kids
By Taryn Plumb, Telegram & Gazette Staff


WORCESTER— In many ways, the crimp-eared golden retriever Elliott is just as imperfect as the children and adolescents he helps: He can be lackadaisical, he sometimes has problems following orders and the spots on his tongue prevent him from leading the pampered life in the dog show circuit that he was bred for.Still, the staff and clients at the Burncoat Family Center in Worcester would take him, idiosyncrasies and all, over a statuesque drama queen Lassie any day. “The kids really identify with him,” said Lori Simkowitz-Lavigne, program director of the center. “They see him as being rejected, as many of them have been.”

Elliott, a 1-year-old National Education for Assistance Dog Service dog, came to the Burncoat Family Center at the end of May — and the furry, affable canine has already had a positive effect on the program’s young clients. Ms. Simkowitz-Lavigne said she’s seen a decrease in the number of children having to be put in restraints.

The program provides short-term residential treatment for boys and girls aged 4 to 18. Many of them have mental health diagnoses; others have been abused or neglected and experience suicidal thoughts or depression.

“Pretty much the work we do here is to stabilize kids,” Ms. Simkowitz-Lavigne explained. “They’re in crisis in some area of their life.” Elliott’s role, then, is to make them more comfortable in certain situations, including intensive therapy sessions. “He doesn’t speak; he offers no judgment,” said Ms. Simkowitz-Lavigne. “He provides unconditional love and affection.”

Often, Elliott will be called into session to cuddle with kids as they’re telling personal, sometimes upsetting stories. He’s also brought into situations in which kids are throwing tantrums or threatening to hurt themselves and others. In that sense, he can help to de-escalate an intense situation.


Therapy Golden Arrow — Right on the Mark

Four-legged friend brings smiles to those who need one most
By John Sharify, KOMO-TV

SEATTLE – Arrow knows the drill. Every week, the golden retriever comes to the Ronald McDonald House and waits. The 2-year-old waits for the kids. Waits to be adored. Nina Brown brings him for the kids battling life-threatening diseases.Five-year-old Kevin John has leukemia. This part of the day is sometimes the one bright spot in the day. He’s been at Ronald McDonald House eight months.

“Comforting feeling for him,” says his mom Janice John. “The kids wait for us at the door when they know Arrow is coming,” says Nina Brown.

Natalie Cunningham loves Arrow, and can’t stop petting him. The 7-year-old has been at Ronald McDonald House five months battling brain cancer. I asked her: “Is your favorite part of the dog the tail?” She laughs: “yes!”


Hugs, Not Drugs with Golden Soraya

Drug-free is theme at Lincoln, Edison
By Hilary Simmons/Journal Staff Writer

MACOMB – One of the themes for this year’s Red Ribbon Week is “I’ve got better things to do than drugs.” During this week, kids across the nation commit themselves to living drug-free lives. Lincoln and Edison schools are celebrating the week with different activities for each day. Tuesday was “hugs not drugs” day at Lincoln School. Students were allowed to bring stuffed animals to school.Nancy Chu took time out of her day to give a demonstration on the benefits of volunteering with her 8-year-old Golden retriever, Soraya. Chu and Soraya are members of Delta Society. Soraya, originally trained as a service dog but found her calling with Chu as a visiting dog instead. Wearing a celebratory red ribbon on her green Delta Society work vest in honor of the week, Soraya helped show the kids all the fun activities they would be missing out on if they weren’t drug-free.


Mingo, My Co Therapist

Mingo, My Co Therapist
By Allan N. Schwartz, Ph.D.

Mingo is a 7 year-old Golden Retriever and the mother of many fine dogs who are now working as service and support dogs around the country. Mingo is a fully licensed and certified service and emotional support dog. She is a registered Delta Society Therapy Dog and a Reading Education Assistance Dog. As a result, she visits the local hospital to bring happiness to medical patients. She also visits the local library homework center where she encourages children both to do their homework and get tutoring with their school subjects. Mingo is also my co-therapist for psychotherapy patients who experience intense anxiety in the form of phobias, episodes of panic, agoraphobia (fear of leaving home) and general anxiety. Many of these individuals also experience depression that varies from mild to intense. In addition to anxiety patients, Mingo works with individuals whose primary symptoms have to do with depression.I can almost hear some readers ask: “How can a dog possibly be a co-therapist during a therapy session?” Actually, this is a very good question, which I will try to answer.

Before answering that question, it is important to establish the fact that certain procedures are followed before a person comes to the office. Because some people suffer from allergies and asthma, everyone is informed that a dog might be in the room and asked if it is alright with them. They are asked if they are fearful of dogs and are given the choice of not having the dog in the room if that is their preference. Always, the emphasis is on patients’ full knowlege and consent. No one is required to have Mingo present if they would rather not. There are certainly some individuals who prefer to not have a dog in the room, whatever their reasons may be. The majority of people choose to have Mingo in the session and make good use of her presence during therapy.

We will now take up the question, “How can a dog help a patient during a psychotherapy session?” First, dogs and other pets are completely non judgmental. Many people enter psychotherapy fearful that they will be judged, criticized and even rejected, either for their past lives, present problems or just for being who they are. Everyone who meets Mingo feels total acceptance. Mingo seems to sense when people are in stress. She is quick to respond with affection by putting her noseand whole head into their laps and remaining calm. This delights and reassures patients. The warmth and assurance that Mingo communicates seems to work as a kind of medication of its own.

Second, there are a certain number of people who come to therapy because they are lonely and depressed. Many have no pets of their own and never feel the warm touch of another person or animal. It is also true that, compared to many other nations and cultures around the world where touching, embracing and kissing friends and acquaintences is common-place, Americans refrain from physical contact and even require more space between others with whom they are talking. Mingo provides everyone the opportunity to touch and be touched and never tires of the contact. It is fascinating to observe patients as they stroke her soft fur, moving their hands up and down her back and/or scratching her under her chin. If invited, Mingo will jump on the couch and lie across the patient’s lap, offering even more warmth and opportunities to touch and be touched.

Third, patients who suffer from anxiety disorders of all types report feeling great relief from stress and nervousness while they stroke Mingo. In several cases, this stroking is so relieving that patients who had difficulty getting out the words to express themselves, are able to relax and begin speaking while they are petting Mingo.

Fourth, Mingo often becomes the catalyst that sparks memories for many patients who initially state that they remember little from their childhoods. Mingo’s presence sets off memories of pets they had during the past. This leads to further memories of interactions with siblings and parents, and even leads to recollections of traumatizing events such as parental arguments, family hostilities and punishments.

Fifth, Mingo also becomes a “blank screen” onto which patients project thoughts and feelings of jealousy, deprivation, sibling rivalry and childhood hurts. This projection can occur in several ways: a patient may tell me that they are “jealous” that I own Mingo and that she gets to stay in my home. Further discussion leads to memories of jealousy and deprivation during childhood all the way up to and including resentment and jealousy toward their spouse, who, in their perception, has a better job, more prestige, earns more money or seems to be liked or loved more by their children. These are just a few examples of the projections onto Mingo leading to long forgotten memories and present day problems either at work or at home. Some patients may even express jealousy of Mingo’s having my love, thereby beginning to reveal experiences of feeling unloved by parents or believing that parents preferred a brother or sister over them.

Learn more and comment about psychiatric support dogs, emotional support dogs and/or service dogs by clicking here.

Golden Nurse Jazzie

Friendly nature earns golden retriever, owner, Pet Partner Team of the Year
By Rose Mary Budge, San Antonio Express-News

Jasmine, a golden retriever therapy dog, and her San Antonio owner Carol Triesch have been chosen as a Pet Partner Team of the Year, the highest honor in the Delta Society’s Beyond Limits Awards.Recognizing outstanding contributions by Pet Partners and Animal-Assisted Therapy Professionals, the awards attracted entrants nationwide.

Triesch and Jasmine (the dog is known to many patients as “Nurse Jazzie”), volunteer regularly at a number of facilities in the area, notably Brooke Army Medical Center, where they work with burn victims and amputees returning from Iraq.

They also visit the BAMC Family Assistance Center, the Alamo Children’s Advocacy Center for abused children, two psychiatric facilities and an AIDS hospice, in addition to participating in a school reading program.

The team has been “on the job” a little more than three years, logging more than 400 hours of volunteer time and visiting approximately 6,500 people.

According to Marcia Walker, the Delta Society member who nominated the team, Jazzie and Triesch bring a special kind of comfort to those in need and have managed to help many face their difficulties and redirect their lives.


Golden Carly, The Pain Dog

Four-legged Hospital Staffer Helps Take a Bite out of Pain

PALO ALTO, Calif– The Pain Management Service at Packard Children’s Hospital has many important tools to help kids deal with the pain of illness and difficult medical procedures. Biofeedback. Acupuncture. Massage. Medication. And Carly, “the pain dog.”Beautiful and scary-smart, this 4-year-old golden retriever wearing a hospital badge is taking the effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy to a brand new level. Three days a week, Carly accompanies clinical nurse specialist and pet guardian Sandy Sentivany-Collins, RN, MS, on hospital rounds, bringing hugs, tricks, and a lift in spirits to the bedside of kids receiving care through Packard’s pain management and palliative care programs. But there’s something more at work here, something beyond the usual love between children and pets. Carly’s helping with medical care.

“Carly’s the ultimate distraction device,” said Elliot Krane, MD, Director of the Pain Management Service at Packard Children’s, “even better than a video game.” Dr. Krane noted that distracting kids from the difficulties of the hospital experience is known to help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of wellness. “This pooch is definitely a superstar,” said Dr. Krane, “and what she brings to our kids is pure joy.”

Golden retrievers are intelligent and Carly is proof. She’s a bilingual listener, entertaining kids who command her to sit, lie down, roll over or stay in both English and Spanish. Now Sentivany-Collins is teaching Carly to respond to commands from Cantonese and Vietnamese-speaking kids. But what is most impressive is Carly’s sense of purpose. “We’ll take a break and go outside and have a game of catch, but as soon as we’re back in the hospital Carly immediately takes on a gentle persona that suggests a unique understanding of what healing kids is all about. She really gets it.”


Golden Sienna: Three-legged Star

Paws down, this is one special dog – Golden retriever overcomes rough odds to become three-legged star
By Stacy Smith Segovia, The Leaf-Chronicle

Anyone who’s ever met her knows Sienna Temple is a star, but Sunday, it was made official. The Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association inducted Sienna, a 7 1/2-year-old golden retriever, into the Tennessee Animal Hall of Fame.Dr. J. Gordon West, of Parkway Animal Clinic, Sienna’s veterinarian since she was 5 weeks old, nominated her for the award. “You have to appreciate Sienna’s history. She’s a three-legged dog. By all rights, she shouldn’t be here,” West says. “That’s why so many of us feel she’s here for a reason.”

Injured at birth
Sienna was one of nine golden retrievers born in Hopkinsville, Ky. on Sept. 18, 1998. When Sienna was born, her mother, possibly mistaking it for an umbilical cord, chewed off Sienna’s right front leg.

Sienna’s first miracle happened before any human even knew she existed. West says based on her injury, he would have expected Sienna to bleed to death within a few minutes. When someone finally found Sienna, the stump where her leg had been had only a few drops of blood coming from it.

Because there were nine puppies and Sienna was permanently injured and could not be sold with her siblings, euthanasia seemed her obvious end. But her owner carried her around in a Longaberger basket with some of the other puppies, putting off euthanasia in hopes that someone would take pity on the little three-legged dog and take her in.

Kathy Temple will never forget the first time she saw Sienna. “I said, ‘No, no, no, no, no. I don’t need a dog,'” Temple remembers. “I had two geriatric cats, 15 and 16 (years old.)”

It wasn’t love-at-first-sight for Temple. She was plagued by images of the pup chasing her cats, chewing on their tails, making the last part of their lives anything but peaceful. But for Sienna, the attraction was instant. “She saw me and just started wagging that little tail,” Temple says.

Temple is the systemwide teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing at Fort Campbell Schools. The puppies’ owner kept bringing the pups around school, working on Temple’s resolve. Finally, Temple agreed that if no one else would take Sienna, she would. She thinks the owner stopped looking for another home the day she said she’d be the home of last resort. “She was meant to be mine,” Temple says.

Sienna was the first dog Temple had in her adult life, but Temple wasted no time wondering what to do with the pup. When Sienna was just 3 months old, Temple enrolled her in puppy kindergarten. They followed that with Clarksville Kennel Club’s basic obedience course when Sienna was 6 months old. Sienna was awarded her American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Certificate when she was 8 months old. Temple was thrilled at Sienna’s success and made big plans for the dog.

Disappointed but determined
“When she was young, she thrived at obedience, and I thought I could do that with her,” Temple says. The AKC has national championships in obedience, agility and conformation, which is the dog’s physical adherence to the standard for its breed. Because of her disability, Sienna could never compete in conformation. Agility, with its high-flying leaps and other acrobatic maneuvers, would be a stretch, but Sienna was a perfect choice for obedience competitions.

Or so they thought. “I found out the AKC would not allow her to do it because of her leg,” Temple says. Of course, to Temple, the AKC rule seemed ridiculous. Sienna was every bit as capable of mastering obedience commands as any four-legged dog, as she had proven again and again. But soon, Temple found another avenue for Sienna’s talents. Searching pet-related pages on the Internet, Temple came across “pet therapy,” then a foreign concept to her. The more she learned, the more it seemed pet therapy would be the perfect vocation for Sienna.

Animals involved in pet therapy often visit patients in hospitals, rehabilitation programs and nursing homes. Their presence encourages patients to interact, and may inspire them to work harder and get well faster. The warm and loving companionship of an animal can bring peace, relaxation and a break in the routine in any clinical setting.

Temple ordered a home study course from Delta Society, which was founded in 1977 with the goal of improving human health with service and therapy animals. After completing the course, Sienna took a test and became a certified Pet Partner.

A natural
In April 2001, Sienna made her first visit to Gateway Hospital. The first patient she met was an elderly man who’d had a stroke.

“I was in total awe,” Temple says. Sienna did what Temple calls the “Golden Nudge,” pushing her head under the man’s motionless hand. After many tries, Sienna had his hand flopped on top of her head.

Then time stopped. The man curled his fingers into Sienna’s fur. “His family started crying,” Temple says. “He had been totally unresponsive up to that time.”

For the past five years, since her first — wildly successful — day as a pet therapy dog, Sienna has made a stunning difference in the lives of hundreds of people. There’s the oncology patient who hadn’t spoken to anyone in three days. She wouldn’t eat. She wouldn’t make eye contact. Then Sienna came into her room.

“What is this?!” she said, reaching down to stroke Sienna’s red-gold fur. After the fun visit, Sienna was walking out of the room when the woman announced, “I’m hungry.”

There’s no telling for how many people Sienna has been the turning point between a downward spiral and an uphill climb. Sandy Britt, local animal activist and volunteer, was one of those people. In the hospital after abdominal surgery, Britt was in pain, discouraged, and missing her own dogs. A visit from Sienna brightened her day and strengthened her resolve to get back home to her family.

“The level of compassion she has for people is something I could not have taught her,” Temple says about Sienna. “It’s a gift from God.”

Fans in high places
Temple is biased, for sure. She isn’t married and has no children, so Sienna is her child, she says. Since Sienna was a puppy, Temple has taken her with her everywhere that allowed dogs, and some places that didn’t. But Temple is far from alone in her opinion that Sienna is special.