Troupe Members of the Month - Virginia Sensenbrenner & Giotto
Virginia Sensenbrenner has been a treasured member of the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe for the past 14 years with three gifted therapy dogs. Her current Pet Partner is Giotto, a 6-year-old black American Cocker Spaniel. Virginia and Giotto have worked with hospitalized children at the Ronald McDonald Children’s Hospital at Loyola and seniors at the Oak Trace Health Care Center in Downers Grove. They are also faithful visitors at Hines Veterans Administration Hospital on the Extended Care, Hospice and Spinal Cord RCF units. Giotto also enjoys making reading fun for children as a Reading Education Assistance Dog at North Riverside Library. Here is what Virginia has to say about her partner, Giotto:
“Our favorite visits are the libraries and schools. However, our most touching and memorable visit was with a veteran in hospice care at Hines. As we were saying goodbye, the veteran told us that this was one of the happiest days in his life.”
“Giotto has the ideal Cocker Spaniel temperament. He is confident, outgoing, sensitive and very calm. He exemplifies the breed standard -- The merry little Cocker with the wagging tail."
On behalf of all of us in the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe, thank you so much, Virginia for your dedicated 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.