Animal Tales - A View On The Life Of An Therapy Pet

GatitaGatita, Cat

"I just love visiting patients!! My mom pushes me around in my stroller and I sit like a princess, and say hi to all the cat lovers and even some dog lovers too! My favorite thing is when I can plop myself right on the bed next to the patient and am petted and get head scratches. Mom makes sure I do not leave any hair on the bed by putting a blanket down first. I could sit there for hours, but I have more patients and families to see! The best part is when I get home from working, mom gives me tuna! Sometimes she forgets, but I make sure to remind her by following her around the house, meowing at her until she pops a can open! I love Animal Therapy!"

CaptainCaptain, Golden Retriever

“After being given up by 5 different families for what was described as mean and aggressive behavior I was destined for a life of being chained outside with little to no interactions. My life changed in May of 2015 when my dad adopted me and said we will work together with a goal of someday joining the Tallahassee Memorial Animal Therapy Program and eventually join the Florida Courthouse Therapy Dogs Program. In October of 2016 after many classes and passing the AKC Good Citizen Course, I tried out for the Tallahassee Memorial Animal Therapy Program and was accepted. My first event was Pups and Pies at Florida State University and man I nailed it, lots of love and kisses. Since that day I have been making more appearances at FSU, Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, the emergency departments and many other places; but there was still one more thing. I applied for the Florida Courthouse Therapy Dogs Program and was accepted in February 2017 and made my first visit in March. This was a huge accomplishment for me following in the steps of “Rikki”, one of my heroes. I officially got sworn in and even got to raise my paw. The Tallahassee Memorial Animal Therapy Program has changed my life and I think I will make it a career. P.S. thank you dad, we are a great team.”

GertieGertie, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

“One of the best experiences I had at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare was when my mom and I were seeing patients that had requested an animal therapy visit. We visited all of those patients and had a wonderful time. I especially liked getting back rubs and showing off my tricks. But, during the course of our time there, I kept trying to pull my mom into the same room where an elderly man was sleeping. It wasn't someone who had requested a visit, but I could tell he needed snuggles! Finally, my mom gave in and as we were walking towards his room he woke up, saw me and began to cry. When we got close enough, he opened his arms and said, "This is exactly what I needed today." My mom picked me up, put me on his bed and let him cuddle up to me. I just grinned at my mom thinking, "I told you so!"”

RoseRose, Rose Breasted Cockatoo

Rose so enjoys her visits to Big Bend Hospice. First, when she sees her travel cage out she knows she is going and gets very excited; bobbing her head up and down. Rose loves the car ride. She "surfs" on top of her cage while in the car and does make a few heads turn on our way. Once she gets inside at Big Bend Hospice she easily puts on her harness for visiting. Rose has a lot of friends when she visits. Nurses, volunteers, foundation staff, families, children and patients. She becomes especially animated when she gets someone to talk to her one on one or when she gets and gives kisses-for real!

Rose spends time at the end of her visits sitting in the lobby. She is glad to eat a treat as a reward for visiting so many people. She always leaves with a myriad of lipstick colors and feeling quite satisfied with herself.

Bella CBella, English Setter

“My mom and I go to the Hospice House almost every Tuesday.  I love going to visit because I have a fan club; they always tell me how pretty I am and how soft and silky my coat feels.  (I am an Orange Belton English Setter, almost nine going on two years old and my name fits perfectly.)Each Tuesday, Hospice volunteers have Tea Time for the patients, family and staff.  Don’t you know I set my point right at the Tea Time tables when I come into the lobby?  Once in a while, my mom will let me have a piece of fruit or cracker, or let the staff or family give me a treat.

One day we went to a room to visit and found a party going on.  The patient had several friends visiting.  This group had vacationed together for years around the United States as RVers.  When I showed up, the ladies let me join in the fun and I got on the bed beside the patient and snuggled in for the party.  All of the friends started taking photos with their phones.  Some of the ladies are like my mom and technology-challenged.  An intern was visiting with us and helped the ladies with their photos.  We stayed a long time visiting as the whole group, including the patient, drew us into their party as they reminisced about their vacation adventures.  What a joyful time we had with the group!”

DollyDolly, Border Collie

“The nicest thing happened to Mom and me today. We were out getting ourselves an extra special treat at a place that Mom calls Krispy Kreme. When Mom was paying, the nice lady said she gave us a discount! When Mom asked why, she said because of the therapy dog that visited her daughter at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. Mom had her animal therapy shirt on and I my blue therapy dog bandanna. You just never know how much people appreciate our visits. I loved the doughnuts.”

KellyKelly, Boston Terrier Mix

“When we visited the Elder Day Stay, one Alzheimer’s patient made me feel even better than I do when I’m sunbathing on the porch with a tennis ball! The gentleman saw me from across the room strutting my stuff and performing tricks for the other residents. When I approached and politely sat in front of him, asking if he would like to meet me, he said, "No." After I worked my way around the room again performing even more tricks, he was grinning and said to my mom, “Give me a treat for her." Mom helped him hold his hand open with the treat in it and I ever-so-gently ate from his palm. He grinned and was so happy!”

KennaKenna, Smooth Coat Collie

“Thanks for inviting us to visit the Emergency Center - Northeast,” Mom said. “As usual, I behaved so well. The nurses and other staff were thrilled to see me and invited mom and I back to all the patient rooms. We visited at least 10 patients, and in the last room, a patient was crying uncontrollably, but her husband invited us in anyway. I wasn't bothered by the crying at all. Mom makes more noise when she thinks she can sing in the car. I was very interested in getting close to the patient. In no time I was able to calm the patient down, just by entering the room. Mom and the patient’s husband was amazed. By the end of the visit, the patient was telling me all about her four-year old dog and laughing at my silly personality and talking about my oh-so “soulful eyes" (if she only knew the truth of that statement!). We were in the room so long that I decided to lay down by the bed”

“Today we did our first visit at Big Bend Hospice with Hospice Volunteer Coordinator, Betty. We visited an elderly woman who was not doing so well. She was asleep when we all got to her room, but we had been told by the staff that she would love a visit. Betty went in, talked to her and asked if she'd like to meet me. I stood in the doorway and wagged my tail softly from side to side. She said yes. My Mom then escorted me over to the bedside and helped me gently put my front paws up on the bed. I was immediately drawn to the patient. As we gazed into each other’s eyes, I softly snuggled up to her. I let her stroke my fur around my face and neck, then I sniffed her hands and laid my head on her chest. The entire time, the patient was petting me and saying, “You're so beautiful. I love you!” She probably repeated that a dozen times, which I just loved! Mom said it was incredible to watch, especially since I am usually only snuggly when I want something… like a treat! I told Mom that I could sense the patient was not feeling well and wanted to be near her to give her comfort and love.”