Troupe Member of the Month - Don Jankowski & Jamie
Don has been a dedicated member of the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe since 2014. His registered Pet Partner therapy dogs are Jamie and Lizzie, both Shetland Sheepdogs. Don has worked with the Troupe since its founding in 1997, helping with fundraisers and applying for and receiving formal not-for-profit recognition. When he retired in 2014, Don tested with Jamie and became a formal Pet Partner team. They have volunteered at “Read With Me” visits at elementary schools in Downers Grove, Lisle, Naperville and Burr Ridge. In addition, they have visited Loyola University Hospital and Hines Veterans Administration Hospital. Don and Jamie have been long-standing visitors to Little Friends in Downers Grove, an adult daycare for developmentally disabled adults. And they have been regulars on a monthly “de-stress event” at Wheaton College, where Don is a part time adjunct professor of Economics. In 2018, Don performed with Jamie (as the Nutcracker Prince) in the Troupe’s occasional fundraiser production of “The Nutcracker: A Canine Version.” Prior to that, Don appeared in earlier versions of that fundraiser as “Herr Droesselmeir,” the only human role until recent productions.
Here is what Don has to say about Jamie and his PAWSitive therapy Troupe experiences:
This summer, Jamie and I will celebrate the end of our fifth year of visiting with students, patients, daycare residents and senior care residents. Jamie and I absolutely love the “Read” visits, which are a great opportunity to create a fun learning experience for first graders with reading, which is a basic tool for their future success. Every student gets to pet and treat Jamie, and then they read. And Little Friends is such an eye-opening visit for me personally. Because of Jamie, who doesn’t get spooked with occasional loud noises and erratic movement, I have gotten to know AND EFFECTIVELY COMMUNICATE with residents, who are special people. I have learned what makes them happy and am glad that Jamie and I can contribute to their joy. And the visits to Hines are especially heartening. Many veterans are permanent residents at Hines, and to bring a little joy into their day (seeing the wide smiles) makes my day. They gave so much for all of us, and I am glad to give a little back.
Jamie is a dog that LOVES petting. When I am sitting on the couch at home, he jumps up and puts his head under my hand as if to say, “Get to work -- PET ME!” So he is just a natural when it comes to interacting with students/patients/residents who like dogs. I must say that Jamie presents himself as a somewhat regal character. That is why we got him 10 ½ years ago from his breeder, who thought he would be too tall for Conformation (he wasn’t). It was all about attitude, and he has a lot of that. I am blessed to have Jamie and his two sisters as pets. I am especially blessed that Jamie enjoys doing therapy work and that we can work as a team for enrichment of the lives that he touches. And I am so proud to be a member of the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe.
On behalf of all of us in the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe, thank YOU Don and Jamie 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.