Troupe Member of the Month - Jan Conradt & Suzy
Jan has been a member of the PAWSitive TherapyTroup since 2015. She started with her miniature red poodle Dickens. They listened to children read, visited assisted living centers, and enjoyed being in the Nutcracker in 2015. Upon Dicken’s retirement in 2017 Jan tested with her one year old poodle, Suzy, and became a new team with the troupe.
On their first official visit to listen to children read they were teamed with a more experienced team (their Sheltie friend Ellie and her partner). As Ellie relaxed and lie on her side to listen, Suzy observed and adopted Ellie’s listening position as one of her favorites. Although, sometimes the readers think Suzy is sleeping and not listening, Jan assures them that Suzy is happily listening and enjoying the sound of their voices. Suzy and Jan are monthly regulars at Mooseheart School and White Eagle School (which is in the district where they live). They have also made special visits to assisted living centers, and summer school and library activities. Jan enjoys being able to volunteer and serve her community with her dog as her partner.
Here is what Jan has to say about Suzy and her PAWSitive therapy Troupe experiences:
I like to interact with people and also enjoy watching how people interact with my partner Suzy. When children read to Suzy, they scratch her head, scratch and rub her back, touch her paws or tail, show her the pictures on each page, and look at her eyes to make sure she is aware and listening. Suzy is always ready to go back and get on her little rug and relax and listen to them again! I have two memorable experiences to share. First, As Suzy and I listened to a 1st grader read to Suzy for the second time, he came prepared with lots of questions about Suzy. We sat on the floor on a big pillow with Suzy next to the student. As Suzy lay close to the student with her head on his knee, he asked his multiple questions about her , ending with “Does Suzy love me?” The answer was obvious and he was then ready to read. Second, we were meeting people at an assisted living center and I asked a resident in a wheel chair if she would like to meet my dog. I was holding Suzy in my arms so the woman could see her. I introduced Suzy and the woman exclaimed quickly with a smile and happy voice, “My name is Suzy, too!" We had a nice chat as she patted Suzy. I am honored to be part of this group that gives so much to so many people. It is also enriching to my life and my partner Suzy.
On behalf of all of us in the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe, thank YOU Jan and Suzy for your 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.