Golden Retriever Therapy Dog Stormy

Trust me, you do not want to miss this special guy’s story.
Just go to:
landofpuregold.com/rx-stormy.htm

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Meet Golden Boston … Retired Guide Dog to Therapy Dog

Bob Armstrong brings his old Golden Retriever Boston (his wife Debee’s retired Guide Dog) to the Kaiser Permanente hospital in Santa Clara, CA. Debee has a new Golden Guide Dog, but happily trains her Goldens so that when she needs to retire them from the work-intensive job as a Guide Dog, they can be transitioned into being just a loving member of the family as well as doing therapy dog visitation work.

Learn more about Boston’s Guide Dog days here.

So sad for Animal-Assisted Activities to be effected this way

Pet Therapy Dogs May Carry MRSA And Clostridium Difficile Between Patients

ScienceDaily (May 8, 2009) —  University of Guelph in Canada researchers investigated whether MRSA and C.difficile could be passed between pet therapy dogs and patients. The findings suggested that MRSA and C. difficile may have been transferred to the fur and paws of these canine visitors through patients handling or kissing the dogs, or through exposure to a contaminated healthcare environment.

This study was conducted amongst 26 pet therapy dog-handler teams between June – August 2007. Twelve teams visited acute care facilities and 14 visited long-term care facilities. Prior to each visit, the dog’s forepaws and their handlers’ hands were tested for MRSA, vancomycin-resistant enterococci and C.difficile. In addition, the investigator sanitized her hands, handled each dog, and then tested her hands for the same pathogens. Testing was repeated on departure from the facility. The dog-handler teams were observed at all times during the visits and all interactions with patients and staff were closely monitored.

None of the tested pathogens were found on the hands of the investigator or the handlers or the paws of the pet-therapy dogs prior to these visits. However, after visiting an acute care facility, one dog was found to have C.difficile on its paws. When the investigator’s hands were tested after handling another dog that had just visited a long-term care facility, MRSA was detected, suggesting the dog had acquired MRSA on its fur. The dog that acquired C.difficile had politely shaken paws with many of the patients. The dog found to have acquired MRSA on its fur, had been allowed onto patient’s beds and was seen to be repeatedly kissed by two patients.

Finding MRSA on the hands of the investigator who petted a dog after its visit to the long-term facility suggests that dogs that have picked up these pathogens can transfer them back to people. Even transient contamination presents a new avenue for transmission, not only for the pathogens evaluated in the study, but potentially for others such as influenza and norovirus.

The authors conclude that in order to contain the transmission of pathogens through contact with pet therapy animals, all patients and handlers should follow recommended hand sanitation procedures; as for the dogs, perhaps it’s time they learn how to clean themselves after contact with humans!


“We are here to make you smile”

Therapy Golden Maggie

Therapy Golden Retriever Maggie Kewley

Mike Kewley, my pal from Shrewsbury Paws, just sent this glorious photo of his Maggie with the following message: “I hope this puts a smile on your face.”

Maggie, who turned 12 in February, has been joined by Golden Retriever Sadie. Mike says Sadie stays close to Maggie all the time. Maggie is hanging in there but has gotten a little stubborn in her old age, showing more of that selective hearing. You know how that works. As soon as Mike mentions sometime about going for a ride or getting cookies, her hearing ability amazingly returns.

Golden Girls Maggie and Sadie

Golden Girls Maggie and Sadie

Mike also shared this Feb 27, 2009 article — “Thinking about Maggie the Therapy Dog, on her Birthday” — that he had written to celebrate and reflect on the occasion.

I wanted to spend some time today to talk about Maggie, my golden retriever, and her pet therapy work with seniors in nursing and rehabilitation centers, as well as her work with kids with cancer, rape and suicide victims. The times we spend with families is to help them to find a way to deal with the pain and the unknown. We spend time with seniors in nursing homes who have no family, or those with the Alzheimer’s disease that took their memory and their life away from them. And also with adults from twenty to fifty that had severe trauma accidents that left them with no motor skills and had to be on ventilators to survive.

After going through a divorce in 2004 after 30 years, this was one of the most painful times in my life. In November, I started Shrewsbury Paws with Maggie to help me deal with the pain inside and reversed it by helping others. If we could make one person smile it was all worth it. She was my support staff and was there for me when I needed her.

She was certified with Therapy Dogs International and also had her AKC Good Canine certificate. This was a series of tests, twenty to thirty that had to be performed flawlessly.

The first year together doing therapy work we visited 3,500 residents and 350 kids in one of the local hospital. There was one special boy with cancer who was in the Pedi ICU unit for a year we visited. Maggie became a celebrity in the Boston and Worcester area, from the local television stations and newspapers. Her work has touched the hearts of so many people.

In August of 2006, Maggie was diagnosed with mast cell cancer stage III. A tumor the size of a golf ball was located deep in her muzzle. After visiting and experiencing families and their loved ones with cancer, we were going to experience what they were going through together. The percentage of her beating this was small and it was going to be a tough regimen of heavy drugs, chemo and radiation. Not to mention the cost of medical expenses that would be there from all of the treatments. This was an emotional roller coaster ride.

In October of 2006 we made a decision to stop the chemo treatments because her body was shutting down and the outcome and percentages of her making it were fading. I received emails from people expressing their support and prayers for her. It was a time in my life that would make the strongest man drop to his knees and cry. It was day by day and in time we started hanging on to the good days and tried not to think too much beyond that. Taking each day like it was going to be your last and we made. It is now just over two years and there have been no signs of the tumor coming back. Someone gave her a second chance at life.

This past year she started having problems with her hips which resulted in having to carry her up and down stairs and she is having a hard time seeing out of one eye. At eighty pounds, she does challenge me at times. Now I spend my time taking care and enjoying my time with her.

Maggie is celebrating her birthday today. At twelve, she has been my companion and has filled my family with love and happiness from the first day we brought her home. I am truly blessed to have her and I’m glad I had the opportunity to share the love I have with her with everyone.

Check out more of Maggie’s story and her successful battle with cancer here.

Tears to my eyes

I have come to make many special Golden Retriever friends during my many years on the web, but Chandler Rudd is clearly one who has a unique place in my heart. We came to meet due to his lovely wondergirl, Lucy, who so many people loved and now miss.

Chandler is a very gifted man, who can express the truly important things in life with a clarity that can be breathtaking. I am simply thrilled for him that he will be continuing Lucy’s Legacy.

But, knowing how much the loss of Lucy has affected hi life, I am even more touched by his moving on with his newest Golden addition to the family. There is now a wonderful boy named Luke and Luke has already begun to make a name for himself in the Assisted Animal Therapy world.

I have just added Luke to the site, to also celebrate his new official therapy dog status. Luke is definitely following in the pawprints of Lucy. Read below to experience a story like none other of Luke’s first official therapy dog visit.

A couple of weeks ago, Luke finally received his registration from Therapy Dogs Inc. Things have been hectic here so we haven’t had a chance to pay a visit to Exeter Healthcare….until yesterday [April 28, 2008].

It was a rainy, dreary day. Just perfect for a visit to our favorite rehab center. A thorough brushing to remove any excess fur, and a change of clothes for me and we were off. Luke was excited to go for a ride and when he saw where we were going, he became more animated. We have been here many times before so Luke could work with the staff getting him used to all the things he will encounter during his real visits. Wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, and, oh yes, the inevitable lunch cart were taken by him until they were no big deal. Now, we would put all this work to the test.

Luke and I walked into the facility and were greeted enthusiastically by the staff. Most of the people were old friends and knew Lucy and Ben. They were so happy to see me back with Luke and gave us the royal welcome. We started with the short term rooms where I could get Luke used to visiting people who could interact with him. To my delight, he warmed to the task and delighted everyone he met. He proved to be a “leaner”, resting his body, gently against the patients so they had no choice but to pat him. I watched him very carefully, looking for traits that I would need to work out and others that I would need to encourage. Amazingly, there was not one negative trait that needed correcting. I did see, however, a few I need to encourage. Eye contact, and head resting are my priorities for now.

I felt comfortable enough to take him to the “Vent” wing where people who are paralyzed live. This is a long term care facility and some of these patients have been here for 10 years. I just cannot imagine having to live a life, in a bed, without the ability to move one muscle from your head down. The depression must be enormous. Imagine, then, (assuming you like dogs) the joy of a visit with a beautiful, friendly, golden retriever and an understanding human.

My first patient was “Doug”. Doug has been here for as long as I’ve been visiting. He’s about my age, thin, bald, but with expressive eyes complete with crows feet. How does a guy who has been paralyzed for at least 10 years have crows feet? Doug smiles! He cannot talk but will mouth his words and compliment them with his eyes. Believe it or not, communicating with him is easier than you think. It’s amazing how clear he is when his mouthing a greeting and his eyes are crinkled in a smile. He has seen Luke before but we have not made any physical contact.

I walked into his room and said “Hi Doug! We’re official now!”

His eyes crinkled and he mouthed “Congratulations!”

“How’s he doing?” I read from his lips.

“So far, so good!” I replied.

I explained that because he was so new to this, I wanted to let him look around the room and get used to the equipment that kept Doug alive. I showed Luke the ventilator that was making a rhythmic, wheezing sound followed by a click and the exhaust of air. Next we saw the catheters and electrical cables that carried the waste from Doug and kept him monitored by the nurses station. Luke took all this with aplomb. Finally, I brought him to Doug’s side and told Doug what I wanted to do.

When Lucy was alive, I would lift her out of her stroller and place her in the bed with Doug. She would make her way to his head where she would give him kisses. Because of Doug’s paralysis, he has no feeling anywhere on his body with the exception of his head. Lucy seemed to know this and Doug absolutely loved it!

I told Doug that I was going to place Luke’s big paws on the side of his bed, next to his head so Luke will understand that this is where he needs to go to make meaningful contact with Doug. He crinkled his eyes and mouthed “OK!”

I told Luke “UP!” and “Easy!” and lifted his paws and placed them on the side of the bed. I covered his paws with my hands in case he reached out. Doug can’t move out of the way and Luke’s claws, although short, could do some damage.

Doug looked at Luke, moving just his eyes, and mouthed “Hi Luke!”

Luke then amazed me by slowly leaning forward until his nose was almost touching Doug. Carefully, gently, he began to lick Doug’s face.

Doug opened his mouth wide in a laugh. His body shook as he laughed. He pursed his lips and made squeaking sounds (Like you were calling a cat) and all the while Luke kept licking. All this took only seconds but for me, time had slowed down to a crawl. Luke finally stopped and pulled away. Doug stopped laughing but the smile remained.

“Good boy!” he mouthed. Then to me, “Thank you!”

“You’re welcome, Doug” I said. “I am so happy that Luke seems to know what he’s doing. I think Lucy’s there beside him, guiding him and encouraging him.”

Doug replied “I think so too.”

Not wanting to stress Luke out, I told Doug that I would be back next week. He thanked me and as we made our way out of his room, Luke looked back at Doug. I could see that he liked the visit and was sad to go.

We had been at the rehab for almost an hour and I decided to call it a day. Luke was beginning to pant. It might have been the heat but he may have reached his limit for the day. We said goodbye to everyone and walked out into the rain.

“Not bad” I thought to myself. “Not bad at all!”

I Love Lucy

A Seven Week old Baby LucyWe have a very special page at our Foundation’s site to honor Therapy Golden Retriever Lucy. It is called, of course, I Love Lucy. Lucy’s special story is everything about what rescue is about, as they faithfully work on to mend the wrongs in our often throw-away type society.

During the week of February 15, 1997, a puppy was found in the North End of Middletown, Connecticut. Two reports were given. One was that the pup was found dumped on a doorstep, in a basket. The other was that she was found in a dumpster. That pup was Lucy, then named Precious.

She was taken to Pieper-Olson Vet Clinic, in Middletown, where it was then learned that she was paralyzed from the waist down. Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue (YGRR) was called and she was admitted into their program. She was transported from there to Yankee’s Vet Clinic, Fremont Animal Hospital, in Fremont, New Hampshire, where more tests were done. Soon after that, Precious was brought to Tufts Vet Hospital for more extensive tests and it was determined that she suffered from a neurological injury, either as a birth defect, or possibly from being dropped soon after birth, although no evidence was found to support that theory. Their recommendation was to euthanize her. YGRR refused and brought her back to Fremont.

If you do not know Lucy’s story, please visit her very special page of honor. There are many wonderful stories, photos, and video clips to enjoy. Here are her parents’ (Chandler and Dee Rudd) words about taking Lucy into their family:

Our daughter, Susan, had been telling us about a handicapped Golden at Fremont Animal Hospital for months. She now came home and asked us if we could help this little dog out by taking her into our house. We were to try to housebreak her and socialize her with our two Goldens, Maggie and Bennie. She explained that this was perhaps the last chance for this dog to become adoptable. We really didn’t want a third dog, but Susan said that it would only be temporary. When Lucy became housebroken, she would go back to Riverview and hopefully get adopted. I decided that I wouldn’t become attached to Lucy. I considered her a work in progress …. a job, so to speak.

We had our work cut out for us that first night. Lucy was a sweetheart, but, oh my! The mess! We began by putting her on a schedule. Just like a puppy, she would go out to ‘potty’ right after every meal, as soon as she woke up, and right before bedtime. We praised her after each successful ‘outing’ and after a few days, she was almost perfect. Sure there were some mistakes, but we could see that Lucy was sorry.

One night, Lucy was sleeping on the couch. I looked over at her and watched as she dreamed. Her eyes, although closed, moved as she watched something in her dream world. Her legs moved rhythmically as she chased it. I wondered if she was still handicapped in her dreams, or if she could run as she had never done. I moved closer to her, studying her face, looking at the perfection in her features. Wondering why something so beautiful, so innocent, could be so imperfect. As I drew even closer, Lucy must have sensed my presence. Her eyes opened a little, and when she saw me so near, they opened wide in surprise. Then something happened that changed everything. She recognized me. Her eyes softened, and she leaned closer to me and gently licked my face. This one act went straight to my heart. I knew then that I was totally in love with this little girl. I also knew that we would never part. All our plans for her were now in our hands. She had found her ‘forever home’.

We had originally envisioned Lucy being adopted by a Physical Therapist. Someone who could use her disability along with her wonderful personality to help handicapped children overcome the obstacles in their journey towards rehabilitation. Dee and I felt that Lucy was put on this earth for a purpose. She had come a long way and fought incredible odds just to get this far. Now we had a new job. We wanted to, eventually, use Lucy to help others. It took almost one year. We worked with Lucy, socializing her with other dogs, working her with people, especially children. She loved children! We worked with a local Rehabilitation Hospital, and Lucy became certified as a Therapy Dog to work in that hospital. Later this year, she was also certified by Therapy Dogs International to work in any hospital or nursing home in this country or Canada.

In April 2008, The Goldstock Fund announced the addition of a new fund, LUCY’S LEGACY. During life, Lucy’s courage, determination and unconditional love constantly amazed and inspired everyone she met. All ages, all nationalities, challenged and able-bodied—she touched thousands of lives both physically and emotionally. Lucy was an active therapy dog, and a shining example of the positive life force that can be found in all dogs. Click below to see her on the job, as shown on NHPTV’s Outlook Program on August 6, 2001.

Lucy’s Legacy Fund, actually developed from an idea by YGRR founder Joan Puglia to honor Lucy, will provide therapy dog training as well as activities to enhance the bond between people and their dogs. Proceeds from activities will be given via grants to Golden Retriever rescue programs.

Partnering with other groups that improve our dogs’ quality of life, Lucy’s Legacy will be featuring educational and social activities that explore the health, emotions, and behavior of canine companions. One such program, CAMP LUCY, is providing guided workshops for developing each dog’s emotional and physical potential—so offering relaxation, recreation and social events for people and their canine companions.

The first annual CAMP LUCY, hosted by Camp Robin Hood, will be held September 12-14, 2008 on Ossipee Lake in beautiful Ossipee, New Hampshire. There you can strengthen the bond with your dog in the quiet tranquility of the White Mountains. All meals will be provided by the camp and prepared by their gourmet chef. Snacks and vegetarian selections will also be available. Lodging in the camp cabins is included in the $200 price. Although lodging is shared, the cabins are large and offer plenty of room for you and your dogs. Check out the wonderful activities and workshops, your ability to participate in as many or as few as you choose. Or, if you wish, you can simply enjoy the weekend relaxing with your dog. The camp has a beautiful sandy beach, large fields and miles of hiking trails. For more info, email Chandler Rudd at summerpaws@earthlink.net.

  • First aid and accident prevention
  • Introduction to tracking
  • Flower essence workshops
  • Trick training
  • Introduction to land and water retrieving
  • Daily guided nature walks (on leash)
  • Canine Good Citizenship preparation and test
  • Movies
  • Beach campfires
  • Candlelight ceremony
  • Special senior (and almost senior) seminar: Developing and implementing a comprehensive, holistic, home enrichment program for your senior.

Remembering Therapy Golden Retriever Inker

It is a always a sad day when I learn about another one of our special Golden souls losing their battle with cancer. I just received this note from Doreen Rinaldo, one of the people who put together the “Friends of Inker” campaign to help raise funds for his treatment.

Hello Rochelle, I am very sad to report that Inker passed away today in the loving arms of Pat Dobson. Inker continued to make visits to the patients and employees at Trinitas Cancer center up until one week ago. The cancer just suddenly spread everywhere, and it was time to end his suffering. Thank you so much for the support and encouragement that you bestowed upon Pat and Inker. He was such a special, loving boy, and he will always be remembered . . .

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Here is an earlier post from only a few months ago when we were able to help in the Friends of Inker effort.

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Inker receiving a chemotherapy treatment

We are so happy to announce that Inker is a recipient of our of our Foundation’s Working Dog Cancer Treatment Grants.

inker22.jpg This is Golden Inker showing off the shirt that he wears when he does his therapy visits to help human cancer patients at Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, NJ. It is obviously quite inspiring.

I simply love it. It is just the perfect way for Inker to show empathy. Mom, Pat Dobson, had a great idea when she decided to have this shirt created for her boy.

inkcin.jpgThis 9-year-old dude is from New Jersey and has been working at hospitals, going twice weekly for 2 years now, actually having visited nearly 900 patients. Sadly, he was diagnosed last month with lymphoma and is now receiving weekly chemo treatments.

I love the part near the end of the clip when Inker plants a wet one on Newscaster Cindy Hsu (the reason for her smiling face).

Click on Inker below to see a wonderful video clip of this boy in action.

Therapy Golden Maggie back in the news

prot.jpgOur favorite Therapy Golden girl, Maggie, of Shrewsbury Paws is back in the news with a report on “Holistic Healing.” Click on the video for the full scoop.

And, to learn more about the homemade totally organic diet (there being different formulas for every health condition, including cancer) and an important supplement that we have utilized for years, click here.

Arlene and her five 4-Footed Therapists

5gir.jpgArlene Sansone is one special lady. Honestly, I was impressed just by her being able to maintain such a huge furry family, with one Golden, one Cavalier, and three Shelties.

Almost every day, she and one of her golden girls hop in the car and head for a local hospital or nursing home. Faith, Hope, Grace, Belle and Queen each have their own places they visit, based on their size or temperament.

She and her son Randy Goss own the dogs, three shelties, a golden retriever and a Cavalier Spaniel, who are all obedience champions, and she has a regular rotation of places she and one of her dogs visit.

Mondays they hit the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. On Tuesdays, it’s Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Wednesdays, it’s Bridgewood Pointe at the Drake Center. And Fridays, they are back at Children’s Hospital.

In between their regular rotation, the girls visit local libraries and youngsters read to the dogs.

Golden Inker recipient of our Foundation’s Working Dog Cancer Treatment Grant

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Inker receiving a chemotherapy treatment

We are so happy to announce that Inker is a recipient of our Foundation’s Working Dog Cancer Treatment Grants. His mom, Pat Dobson, has been really struggling with the bills and we were certainly glad to help. You, too, can donate to the cause by checking out Golden Inker’s own page.

inker22.jpg This is Golden Inker showing off the shirt that he wears when he does his therapy visits to help human cancer patients at Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, NJ. It is obviously quite inspiring.

I simply love it. It is just the perfect way for Inker to show empathy. Mom, Pat Dobson, had a great idea when she decided to have this shirt created for her boy.

inkcin.jpgThis 9-year-old dude is from New Jersey and has been working at hospitals, going twice weekly for 2 years now, actually having visited nearly 900 patients. Sadly, he was diagnosed last month with lymphoma and is now receiving weekly chemo treatments.

I love the part near the end of the clip when Inker plants a wet one on Newscaster Cindy Hsu (the reason for her smiling face).

Click on Inker below to see a wonderful video clip of this boy in action.

inks.jpg

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Therapy Golden Inker: Cancer Survivor

inker2.jpg
Inker receiving a chemotherapy treatment

inker22.jpg This is Golden Inker showing off the shirt that he wears when he does his therapy visits to help human cancer patients at Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, NJ. It is obviously quite inspiring.

I simply love it. It is just the perfect way for Inker to show empathy. Mom, Pat Dobson, had a great idea when she decided to have this shirt created for her boy.

inkcin.jpgThis 9-year-old dude is from New Jersey and has been working at hospitals, going twice weekly for 2 years now, actually having visited nearly 900 patients. Sadly, he was diagnosed last month with lymphoma and is now receiving weekly chemo treatments.

I love the part near the end of the clip when Inker plants a wet one on Newscaster Cindy Hsu (the reason for her smiling face).

Click on Inker below to see a wonderful video clip of this boy in action.

inks.jpg

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Therapy Golden Yasmin & her incredible Dad, Arthur Salomon

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Arthur & Yasmin visiting Mackenkie Dorn on the pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital (Sun-Sentinel/Rhonda Vanover)

This story is quite a unique one. While we detail many stories here of assisted visitation Goldens, as was as at our foundation’s site, I do not believe I have seen such a level of dedication as this one before.

Arthur Salomon was a corporate Wall Street executive who survived a near fatal heart infection. He retired to Florida but wanted to stay useful and productive and what he has been doing, for 3 hours daily over the past 8 years at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital through their Healing Paws pet therapy program, is truly inspiring.

I typically do not reproduce entire articles here, but this one is so special, and as often is the case, newspaper sites do not keep up stories indefinitely. So, here is the South Florida Sun-Sentinel story, written by with wonderful photos by Rhonda Vanover.

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Therapy dogs putting smiles on patients’ faces at Hollywood hospital
Written by Kathleen Kernicky, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, December 29, 2007
Photos by Rhonda Vanover, December 17, 2007

On the fourth floor at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, Princess Yasmin is getting the royal treatment. Tail wagging, the golden retriever strolls from room to room, greeting patients, jumping on their beds or licking their hands.

“Ninety percent of people know my dog’s name. I’m like, ‘Hey, you,'” jokes Arthur Salomon, Yasmin’s owner, who retired from the corporate world, survived a near-fatal heart infection and found his own brand of therapy visiting sick children with his dogs.

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Arthur & Yasmin in Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital ICU

Salomon, 73, of Pembroke Pines, a volunteer in the pet therapy program, has walked the halls of the fourth-floor intensive care unit almost every day for eight years. First with Soroya, his beloved golden retriever who died two years ago. And now with Princess Yasmin, a playful 2-year-old who wants to “kiss and play with everybody.”

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Visiting with patient Mackenzie Dorn

On a recent Monday morning, Princess Yasmin makes her way to a corner room where Mackenzie Dorn lies in bed, a television playing in the background.

At 13, Mackenzie has had five open-heart surgeries. He’ll soon be on a waiting list for a heart transplant. He doesn’t feel well, but his eyes brighten when Yasmin sits beside him on the bed. Mackenzie talks about his miniature schnauzer, Jack, and a Labrador, Casey, at his home in Stuart. For a minute, he forgets he’s in a hospital 80 miles from home.

“I miss my dogs,” he said, petting Yasmin’s head. “It’s a little comforting to see Yasmin. She reminds me of Casey.” Yasmin licks his hand and trots down the hall to see another patient.

She senses if a child is too sick to play, Salomon said. “She knows when to jump or play and when not to. She’ll get on the bed or a chair next to them. If they’re well enough, they’ll play with her. Or, they’ll wave at her. Sometimes, they’ll put their hand up and say no, they don’t feel like seeing a dog.”

At hospitals around South Florida, pet therapy has become more popular. Studies say petting a dog can lower a patient’s blood pressure, reduce stress and improve the mood of both children and adults.

“If you stood here and watched the dogs come down the hallway, the staff stops, the visitors stop. It adds a little normalcy to someone’s life when they’re in the hospital,” said David Reinmund, director of volunteer services at DiMaggio, where the pet program started about 13 years ago. Now, about 15 dogs visit about 1,000 patients a year.

Salomon joined the program after months in the hospital battling a heart infection. When he recovered, he moved to South Florida from New York, where he retired in the 1980s from a Wall Street investment bank. His wife had given him Soroya before he got sick. In Hollywood, they became a fixture at the children’s hospital, logging an average of 1,000 volunteer hours every year.

“I can relate to all the patients. Whatever they’re going through, I’ve been there myself,” said Salomon, who wanted to keep busy in retirement. “I don’t want to sit on the beach all day. I like hands-on. This is hands-on. I’ve made friends with cleaning people, ex-patients, doctors….”

When Soroya died in 2006, Princess Yasmin quickly took to the job.

After visiting Mackenzie, Yasmin trots down the hall, where Brittany Wayne, 14, of Boca Raton, is recovering from spinal surgery. Doctors have inserted two steel rods in her back.

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Visiting with patient Brittany Wayne

Brittany is sitting up straight in a chair when Princess Yasmin arrives. “I was surprised to see a dog in my room, but she makes me feel better,” Brittany said.

“She’s really in a lot of pain,” said Brittany’s father, Ken Wayne, who is happy to see his daughter smile.

It’s therapeutic, Salomon says of these visits, and not only for the kids. “You can see the elation on some of their faces. It boosts them up a tremendous amount. Most of the kids I see, they’re going through a lot. Seeing the dog takes their mind off it for a while…. “There are children who are here sometimes for months. I get to know them and their families. Many are repeat patients. Over the years, there have been quite a few who didn’t make it. I don’t take it home with me. That’s the only way I can do it,” Salomon said.
Reinmund, who has known Salomon for years, said the retiree-turned pet therapist takes something else home with him, besides the pain.

“He has a lot of patience with the kids,” Reinmund said.”He takes his time. He never rushes. I think this is a good portion of his life. I think it gives him a great joy.”

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Click on smiling Yasmin to see a wonderful video of her in action. (The end of the clip is my favorite part.)

Meet Golden Retriever O’Malley

omalley.jpgMeet sweet O’Malley. He is training to be member of PAL (People Animals Love). The group is one of the hundreds in our foundation’s national listing of animal-assisted therapy groups.

His story has a very special beginning, as it starts with his dad, who in January of 2005 was an infantry company commander serving in Mosul, Iraq. He was leading a convoy of Humvees when his vehicle was struck by an IED hidden behind a guard rail alongside the road.

Click here to learn about his rehab and how his own first hand experience with the therapeutic power of a loyal dog led him to want to train his own dog to help others.

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Golden Retriever Maya photo honored

We initially shared the story below, entitled “I can’t wait to see them!”, on July 14, 2006. But, we just learned this wonderful photo netted a top hospice honor, and had to share it once again.

This is Blue Ridge Hospice resident Bill O’Leary who is receiving an exuberant greeting from Maya, a paws4people therapy dog. (July 14, 2006 Photo by Rick Foster, The Winchester Star)

Although there is little to look forward to these days, Bill does look forward to such “Golden” visits. He even asks to have private time with his visitors, as there are messages from the heart that can only be shared with a furry kindred spirit.

This photograph captured first-place honors in the adult photo category in the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s 2007 photography, writing, and film contest.

“Golden Companions” was shot by Rick Foster on June 30, 2006, to accompany a pet therapy story written by Star staff reporter Angela Jones concerning the Blue Ridge Hospice Residential Center in Winchester. The photo shows William “Bill” O’Leary receiving a lick on the cheek by golden retriever Maya.

O’Leary has since passed on. He died at the center on Aug. 14, 2007.

The national hospice organization said Foster’s award-winning photograph, submitted by Blue Ridge Hospice, was “an example of the high quality of entries received in the 2007 competition.” More than 300 entries were submitted in the annual contest’s categories.

Therapy Golden Retriever Sunny — just what the doctor ordered

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I just love this photo by Steven Martine, a TCPalm Correspondent. It shows two faces of love. Sunny, a 3-year-old and actually 3-legged dude, is visiting Steven Estrada at the Robert and Carol Weissman Cancer Center at Martin Memorial Medical Center. Estrada was receiving a chemotherapy treatment when Sunny stopped in.

Sunny is part of the group, Sunshine on a Leash, one of over 300 groups that we list at our Foundation’s Nationwide therapy dog listing.

came to visit as part of a pet therapy program.

Meet R.E.A.D. & Therapy Golden Retriever Jake

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I just love this photo of 5-year-old Mary Schiavo reading to 4-year-old Jake, taken by The Boston Globe’s Patricia McDonnell.

The interview went well and they shook hands. With that, the deal was sealed, and now, several months later, both parties – Canton Public Library director Mark Lague and Jake, a nearly 4-year-old golden retriever – seem happy with the results. …

Five-year-old Mary Schiavo came well armed with a stuffed Snoopy under one arm, a book under the other, and half a dog biscuit in her hand (her own chocolate Lab got the other half). She was the first in line and Jake greeted her with a wagging tail.

As Mary, the daughter of Jay and Christine Schiavo of Canton, read “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” with a variety of dramatic voices, Jake’s tongue occasionally lolled out of this mouth. As she stopped at the end of each page to show Jake the pictures, he reached out his nose to sniff her pink clogs.

Jake’s owner, Canton Police Officer Kenny Drinan, first saw a “Read to a Dog” program when he took his sons Christopher and Michael to the library in their town, Mansfield. A golden retriever named Abbey and her owner, Mary O’Brien, have occasionally been featured there, said Mansfield children’s librarian Kitty Schacht.

PAL Therapy Dogs on a mission with wounded vets

PAL, People Animals Love, is one of the many organizations featured at our Foundation’s National Listing of Therapy Dog organizations.

People Animals Love was organized in 1981 by Dr. Earl Strimple, a Washington, D.C. veterinarian, to to bring animals to the lonely and socially isolated. PAL’s pilot program was with the St. Francis Center, where it brought pets into the lives of the newly bereaved. Both Dr. Strimple and St. Francis founder, Rev. William Wendt, had witnessed the remarkable positive effects pets had on people who were coping with the loss of a loved one. Since 1982, PAL has been a separate charitable organization pioneering in the practical application and education of pet therapy in the Washington metropolitan area. PAL additionally has a Pet Loss Hotline, an After-School Club, and a Summer Camp.

Dogs therapeutic for recovering soldiers
By Brendan McGarry, Army Times Staff writer, November 26, 2007

In this photo by Sheila Vemmer, Hank is tilting his head back in delight as Spc. DeWitt Osborne reaches out and pets him at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Osborne was in the physical therapy room, working on his flexibilty after shoulder surgery, when Hank spotted his hand dangling within petting reach. Hank sure made Osborne’s therapy a little less painful and a lot more interesting.

img_hannah.jpg“She’s a pretty girl,” Sgt. Bruce Dunlap said, referring to Hannah, a purebred golden retriever who, along with her owner, Sandi Getler, stopped by his workout machine.

Dunlap, 29, of Kansas City, Mo., served in Iraq as part of the Kansas Army National Guard’s 161st Field Artillery unit. On Dec. 11, 2006, he was riding in an armored Humvee that was hit by an improvised explosive device. The blast and accompanying shrapnel broke both of his hands, severed fingertips, and sliced open his left arm and both of his legs.

In therapy at Walter Reed, Dunlap was sweating on a machine that resembled a cross between a treadmill and kayak. A bag around his waist filled with pressurized air, reducing his weight and allowing him to jog.

He said he recently completed the Marine Corps Marathon on a hand-crank bike and plans to become a school teacher and coach. “If I can get through this, I can do anything,” he said. Dunlap said he welcomes the presence of the playful dogs. “They bring a little touch of home,” he said.

Golden Hannah’s Mom, Sandi, tells a very special story about her work with PAL during this last year’s visits to Walter Reed.

During the past year on our visits as PAL (People Animals Love) volunteers to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, we were often paired up as a team: Hannah, my small Golden Retriever with long flowing wheat colored hair (feathers) and my teammate’s very large pure black Great Dane, who came close to breaking the Guinness’ World Record. Caesar was a gentle and loving giant; well-known throughout the hospital.. They were the canine version of the “Odd Couple,” and somewhat like an old fashioned Las Vegas act: Hannah, my Golden, as the showgirl, and Caesar, with his shiny black coat, as the main attraction.

Hannah, with her head held high would lead the way through the halls of the hospital and, as some Goldens do, sashayed, swinging her rear end from side-to-side with her long feathered tail swishing through the air. It was her way of alerting the assigned units. Anyone along the way knew that the majestic Caesar was about to arrive.

On this particular day when we entered the main room of the Psych Unit where most of the patients were expecting us, Caesar, being such an imposing animal, was given the command to “lie down” so no one would feel intimidated by his size. I noticed a patient, dressed in hospital-issued pajamas and loose-hanging robe, was standing in the shadows of a corner of the room, a male attendant by his side. He seemed lost in another time and place, not part of the current world around him, and with a blank unfocused look on his face. As Caesar stretched out in his “down” position, the young man began to move slowly toward the reclining dog. When he reached the animal the room fell silent as we watched how he placed his hand on Caesar’s shoulder, knelt down next to him and then gently laid down (spoon fashion) beside this wonderful animal. He rested his head tenderly on Caesar’s back. Caesar lifted and turned his head slowly to look at the patient, gave a soft sigh seeming to acknowledge this amazing contact, then put his head down again to rest comfortably with his “new friend.” No one spoke, no one moved in that room as we all witnessed a breakthrough in that young “wounded” soldier’s life. It was, we hoped, the beginning of his recovery.

A few months after this memorable experience, Caesar lost his battle against a serious infection and had to be put to rest.

Soldiers, patients and staff in the hospital still ask about Caesar, and I still get emotional when telling this story. But for Hannah and me, there’s no time for tears, as the “show must go on.” We will always feel so grateful to have known and worked alongside such a magnificent animal who gave so much love. Hail Ceasar!

Click below to see these wonderful dogs in action at Walter Reed.

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Therapy Golden Retriever Hannah memorialized at hospital


Photo by Dave Lloyd/The Tribune-Democrat

This is Christine Fogle walking her two certified Golden therapy dogs. Hannah is on the right and Gretchen the left in this 2006 photo. 

In September we first brought this story to you. Hannah made quite a difference in many people’s lives. It is seldom that I see a hospital providing such a special memorial.

Golden retriever memorialized at hospital
By Sandy Wojcik, Daily American Correspondent, October 13, 2007

Hannah Elisabeth Rose Fogle was memorized on Wednesday on the grounds of the Windber Medical Center. A crowd of approximately 50 people joined together at the gazebo to pay tribute to a 9-year-old golden retriever. Hannah died Sept. 26, after a battle with hemangiosarcoma, a cancer of the spleen.

Hannah and her littermate Gretchen were pet therapy dogs owned by Eric and Chris Fogle of Richland. Chris Fogle quit her job as a legal assistant to take her dogs to 11 different facilities in the area to visit with the patients and staff. She said she started out at nursing homes — Laurel Wood was the first. They then graduated to visiting hospitals.

“I would visit four to six places every week.” She knew when the pups were 7 1/2 weeks old that they would become pet therapy dogs because of their wonderful dispositions.

The memorial ceremony was opened by David McGee, pastor, who spoke about how pets can relate with feelings that you may not be able to share with others. He said animals have a “hidden connection” with people. It’s that connection that caused Hannah and Gretchen to be recognized with National Planetree Awards in recognition of being therapy dogs, he explained.  Hannah was a great dog. I know that sounds sort of cheesy but she was,” said Eric.

Chris said Hannah was meant to be with her and Eric, telling the story of how they weren’t supposed to get the dog because she was promised to someone else. But, in a stroke of luck the person decided not to take the pup. Since they were taking Gretchen, it seemed only right they should also take Hannah. This was something they have never regretted.

Eric felt so strongly about losing Hannah, he wrote a short essay titled “A Chronicle of Protection” which was read by Chris at the service. Perhaps one of the most poignant parts of the essay was how Eric and Chris made the decision to let Hannah “go home a little early.”

There’s more . . . 

Therapy Golden Retriever Maggie back in the news

I just love this recent photo of Maggie, who while waiting to leave for work one morning, was taking some time to enjoy sitting in the sun by the window.

I just heard from Maggie’s dad, Mike Kewley, founder of Shrewsbury Paws for Patients. He is still on quite a high as his Maggie is doing so well despite her mast cell cancer diagnosis.

October, 2007: It has been 14 months since Maggie was diagnosed with mast cell cancer. Her exams and blood work have been normal and there have been no signs of any other tumors starting. Maggie is still doing visits and everyone looks forward seeing her. Sadie has created a special bond with Maggie and has helped with her healing process. People are surprised to see how active and playful Maggie has become after knowing her health condition a year ago. Maggie plays with Sadie like a young puppy full of energy. Her story is amazing by itself. Maggie spends time bathing in the sun on the deck and taking afternoon naps with Sadie.

We have accomplished showing everyone the benefits of pet therapy and all of the positives effects the program has made. Maggie is one in a million and everyday now is even more special then before. She has always left people with a smile looking forward to their next visit. Thank you for your emails and the memories we have shared with everyone, Mike

Mike let us know that Maggie was just featured on WHDH-TV and we have, of course, added the link and article about her to the fabulous page at our foundation’s site that chronicles her work.

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Click on this wonderful photo here, taken from the video news clip of Maggie’s recent visit to a Shrewsbury Nursing Home, to see Maggie in action.

Therapy Golden Retriever Charlie

Charlie is following in Harley’s pawprints, as he is now working to help recovering soldiers at a facility in Texas.

Click here to see a wonderful video of Charlie in action.

In a wonderful article by Israel Saenz, I learned about the unbelievable couple above. They actually make 310-mile round trips once a week to the center so that Charlie can provide his special brand of healing.

“I have always wanted to do something for the soldiers,” said Amir Yehezkely, a native of Israel. “And we can see that Charlie does positive things by socializing with them.” The couple moved to Corpus Christi from New York in February 2005 and wanted two things: a way to give to the military community and a golden retriever. They found Charlie to be the friendliest among a litter of puppies soon after moving to South Texas, and learned about the center through an Internet search.

While Charlie never has experienced conflict, his owners have.

Private investor Amir Yehezkely, 42 and a member of the Westside Rotary Club, served in the Israeli Air Force from 1985 to 1988.

“I know what it’s like to be left on the base for the weekend and how important it is for someone to come see you,” he said. “I understand what it’s like when someone cares.”

He learned early about the sacrifices of war, with an assignment he and other Israeli primary school students had to complete in October 1973. Israeli forces were fighting back advancing Egyptian and Syrian troops in the three-week Yom Kippur War.

“The teacher asked us each to send a letter to a soldier,” Yehezkely said.

He sent a package of cards, chocolate and other items and said he never expected to hear back from the soldier.

“Weeks later I got a letter from the soldier, telling me how much he enjoyed the package — especially the letter. I know how effective it is to have support from civilians.”

Years after his own service in the Israeli military, he moved to New York and married his wife in August 1996. In 2001, Michele Yehezkely was a Washington Heights public school teacher about 20 minutes away from the World Trade Center that September.

When planes were flown into the towers one morning, administrators told staff no one was allowed to leave or enter the school.

“It tells the whole story when you see someone scrambling to pick up their child,” Michele Yehezkely said. “It was a terrifying day for all the U.S., but highlighted (for me) by the fact that I could see the smoke.”

After moving to Corpus Christi and finding Charlie, they decided he would be the best way to give back.