Troupe Member of the Month - Ginny Paisie and Odin
Ginny has been a dedicated member of the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe since 2017. Her canine partner is Odin, a 5-year-old black Labrador Retriever. Ginny and Odin have been regular volunteers at Loyola University Medical Center, where they visit the Bernadin Cancer Center and the Surgical Waiting Room area. They also bring stress relief and smiles for busy medical residents at Loyola, and medical students at Stritch School of Medicine. Odin enjoys visiting the students at Wheaton College, several times each semester. And most of all, Ginny and Odin love their work at elementary schools in Lisle, Glen Ellyn and Downers Grove in the “Read With Me” programs. Young readers learn that reading is fun when they can read to a therapy dog!
Ginny and Odin made their first appearance in the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe’s “Canine Nutcracker” 2018. Odin’s roles included Ballroom Dancer and Nutcracker Soldier, delighting children and adults alike in this epic holiday classic. Here is what Ginny has to say about Odin and their PAWSItive Therapy Troupe experiences:
"Odin loves children, so his favorite visits are the elementary schools where early readers share their books with him. When I put on his vest and he hears my “Let’s go see kids!” his tail goes a mile a minute and he jumps into the car. In the classroom after a few initial tail wags, and maybe a few sniffs of pants and shoes (which elicit giggles from the younger ones) Odin lies down to listen. If the student reads AND pets him, Odin will often snuggle close or put his head on a lap for a closer look. Odin also enjoys the older “kids” at the Stritch School of Medicine and Wheaton College where vigorous belly rubs result in many smiles and a canine grin.
Odin is a Labrador retriever, a breed known for a gentle temperament and an easy-going nature. These characteristics describe Odin perfectly. He is rarely ruffled by anything on a visit, whether it’s a noisy parking garage or an alarm for a fire drill. Labs also enjoy their food and snacks, but Odin understands the “leave it” command if we walk down a school corridor where a few dropped French fries smell tempting. One of Odin’s favorite snacks is Goldfish crackers, and that never fails to bring smiles from a first grader who says “I do too!”
When we visit waiting rooms at Loyola, many times he is beckoned to by a patient or family member who has a lab at home or had one growing up. After some chin scratches or “give me a paw”, Odin more often than not plops right at the foot of the visitor as if to say, “I’ve found my happy spot. I’m here to keep you company for a while.” While he dozes, I can have a short conversation which I hope brings a sense of calm in a stressful situation. I think Odin’s favorite visit is to the students at Wheaton College; he just about pulls me down the street when he sees where we’re headed. His biggest fans show huge grins (one even squealed!) and never miss a chance to visit when they see us coming down the hallway. With Odin’s head on their lap, they talk about how they miss their dogs while they’re here at school. A few of them are from other countries, so I know Odin brings comfort and happy thoughts when they’re away from home; a bookmark or calling card lets them love on Odin after he’s done with his belly up, paws out, tail wagging petting position.
During this staying-at-home time, our visits everywhere have been cancelled. So, Odin is learning some tricks (he is working on his AKC Advanced title) and practicing rally moves on the driveway. He is a very smart dog and a quick learner – his food motivation makes for easy training!”
On behalf of all of us in the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe, thank YOU Ginny for your years of devoted service!