Troupe Member of the Month - Laura Dejmek and Skylar
Laura has been a member of PAWSitive Therapy Troupe since 2008. Skylar is her second therapy dog. Skylar recently passed his Pet Partners therapy dog test in February 2018. His regular visit will be at Fisher House and Ronald McDonald House, where he began his visiting this past March.
Previously, Laura--with her former therapy dog, Siena,--visited Hines Spinal Cord and Blind Rehab Center, Loyola Hospital, and Bridgeview Library, and also Laura’s school on Family Reading nights. A favorite visit was on Christmas Eve and Laura is looking forward to resuming that tradition with Skylar. Laura and Siena had danced in the 2010, 2012, and 2015 productions of the Canine Nutcracker. Laura looks forward to dancing in this year’s production with Skylar.
In addition to being a Therapy Troupe member, Laura is also the Troupe’s chaplain. She has conducted memorial services for deceased Troupe pets, as well as praying for the humans in the Troupe.
In selecting Skylar’s regular visiting place, here is what she had to say:
“I discovered the joy of this visit when Siena was older, and walking was difficult for her. Skylar, despite being big, strong and exuberant, is so gentle with children. He loves them so! When training Skylar for the Pet Partners test, he did so well with children of all ages. I was especially touched at how gentle and calm he would be with toddlers. He has a wealth of tricks that children will enjoy. I am looking forward to the joy he will bring to others.“
On behalf of all of us in the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe, thank YOU Laura for so 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.
PAWSitive Therapy team Amy and Buster on CBS News (February 16, 2018)
PAWSitive Therapy Troupe Featured on PBS's "In the Loop" (May 25, 2017)
Loyola Celebrates 20 Years of Pet Therapy
For 20 years, the PAWsitive Therapy Troupe has been visiting patients, families and colleagues at Loyola Medicine. These canine caregivers bring 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.
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.
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.