Troupe Members of the Month - Linda Chiaramonte & Snap
Linda Chiaramonte is one of the founding members of the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe, which began at Hines VA Hospital as “Pets for Vets” back in 1997. She has more than 19 years of service as a dedicated volunteer with her beloved Rough Collies Sky, Storm, Shade, Spark and Taylor.
Linda’s current Pet Partner is Snap, a 13-year-old Shetland Sheepdog. They are faithful visitors at Hines VA Hospital on the Extended Care, Spinal Cord Injury, Blind Rehab and Psychiatry units. Here is what Linda has to say about her partner, Snap:
“Snap is an energetic 13-year-old Shetland Sheepdog who began his therapy dog career at the end of 2015. After adopting him earlier that year, I realized what a sweet and loving dog he was, and I thought he would be quite good at sharing his calm demeanor with those who could not have their dogs with them. I think his favorite visit is the Blind Center where he can hop up on the chairs and snuggle against those he is visiting. My heart is warmed by the look of gratitude on the faces of his new found friends -- and I know he has made an impact on them. Snap follows in the footsteps of 5 wonderful collies who were my therapy dogs over two decades and I am happy to see their legacy continue through him.”
On behalf of all of us in the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe, thank you Linda for your many years of devoted service!
The PAWSitive Therapy Troupe is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to sharing registered therapy dogs with individuals in a wide variety of health care and educational settings--bringing comfort, support and encouragement through the unique healing power of the human-animal bond.
What is the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe?
The PAWSitive Therapy Troupe is an Animal-Assisted Activities and Therapy program designed to share registered therapy dogs with patients and students in a variety of health care and educational settings.
Is there a Difference Between a Therapy Dog and a Service Dog?
Yes! Therapy dogs are NOT “service”, or “assistance” dogs. Service dogs include guide dogs for the blind; hearing dogs that alert their owners to sounds; mobility assistance dogs, which may pull a wheelchair or directly support a person; seizure alert dogs; and others like them. Service dogs are covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act. People with disabilities can BY LAW, take their service dogs with them wherever they go, including planes, restaurants, sporting events, etc.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that therapy dogs and their handlers have the same rights of access as people with disabilities and their service animals. Therapy dogs are NOT service dogs. They are NOT allowed to accompany their handlers wherever they go. Therapy dogs are invited into hospitals, nursing homes or schools to work with patients or students on very specific tasks, or simply to bring their unconditional love to the many people who need them in these facilities. Therapy dogs and their handlers have no more rights of access than anyone with a companion animal or pet.
Therapy dogs are always first and foremost beloved family pets. You cannot “buy” a ready made therapy dog. Therapy dogs and their owners, because of their interest in therapy work have undergone additional rigorous training to prepare them to function reliably in health care or educational settings. Therapy dogs live at home with their families when they are not working.
What are Animal-Assisted Activities / Therapy?
Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA) share registered therapy dogs with patients or students in a variety of activities such as individual bedside visits, entertaining demonstrations or educational sessions. Animal- Assisted Activities are not necessarily goal-directed, but they are nonetheless certainly therapeutic in nature.
Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is goal-directed intervention in which a therapy dog is an integral part of the clinical treatment process. It is directed by a licensed health care or education professional with specialized expertise and within the scope of his or her profession. AAT is designed to promote improvement in physical, social, emotional and / or cognitive functioning / reading skills. This process is documented in the health care record by the health care professional or in the education plan by the education professional.