Troupe Member of the Month - Gene Schafer, Desi and Tico
Gene has been a dedicated member of the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe since 2014. His registered Pet Partner therapy dogs are Desi and Tico, both Havanese. They have been dedicated volunteers at Hines VA Hospital, where Gene and his wife Tiffany visit with veterans on the Extended Care units. Gene and his dogs also enjoy “Read With Me” visits with grade schoolers and final exam destress visits with high schoolers at several local libraries. Visiting with seniors at Villa St Benedict in Lisle is another favorite visit.
Here is what Gene has to say about his PAWSItive Therapy Troupe experiences:
I have been visiting with Desi for about four years, and with Tico for about two. I started visiting because Tico would be okay if Desi left but my wife was home, and okay if my wife left but Desi was home, but he was completely despondent when both were gone. So now Desi and Tico get to do visits together, and he LOVES it!
Our primary visit is Hines VA hospital, which is always very uplifting. I also really enjoy the finals study visits we do at a couple of libraries; the high schoolers are super into it, but it's also almost more like "hanging out" than working. We also enjoy visits with the retirees at Villa St. Benedict. Tico's favorite is the R.E.A.D. visits, for sure. He loves to ham it up for the kids.
Although Desi can be a bit of a diva at home, he's amazing at "going to work" once he puts on the vest. It's really special to see how his attitude changes. He's also great at being picked up and staying still during petting, which is unusual for smaller dogs. This allows clients to be able to relax a little more, especially if they aren't quite as mobile or flexible as they used to be. Tico is quite the social butterfly. His favorite thing in the world is attention, and he loves meeting new people and showing off his tricks. Having the two different personalities on the same visit allows us to customize our time with our clients in ways that might not be typical for smaller visits.
On behalf of all of us in the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe, thank YOU Gene 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.
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.