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.