Troupe Member of the Month - Ula Wojdyla and Benny
Ula has been a dedicated member of the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe since 2017. Her canine partner is Benny, a five-year-old Cockapoo. Ula and Benny have been volunteers at a variety of facilities that the Troupe visits. They work with students in “Read With Me” programs at Hodgkins and Hillcrest Elementary schools. They bring needed stress relief during finals week to students at Mansion High School, Downers Grove North High School, Wheaton College, Stritch School of Medicine, and University of Illinois School of Dentistry. Ula and Benny have also visited with patients and staff on many units throughout the Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. They love bringing smiles to families of hospitalized children at the Ronald McDonald House near Loyola. Ula and Benny made their first appearance in the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe’s “Canine Nutcracker” in 2018. Benny danced as one of the Mouse King’s soldiers. Ula says that Benny is a natural entertainer and the more that people clapped, the more of a ham he became! Here is what Ula has to say about “Benny: and their PAWSitive Therapy Troupe experiences:
"I have always heard that “a dog is man’s best friend” and found that to be a true statement. My Benny is a Cockapoo—a cross between a cocker spaniel and a poodle. Cockapoos are very smart, easily trained and affectionate. They have the sprite of a cute clown. Benny was born on December 5, 2015 and is almost five but when I introduce him to new people I say “he’s almost five going on one” because of his endless frolicking and energy. He came into my life in February 2016 when I needed a good friend and we have been inseparable ever since.
Our most memorable visit was with a young patient who loved dogs. Her family asked for a visit during a time of great emotional stress for everyone. Benny and I walked in and the patient asked if she could hold Benny. She knelt on the floor and I led Benny to her. I asked the nurse or permission and was told to put Benny in her lap. I was nervous because she was very sick. She held Benny closely. He put his head on her knees and just sat there as long as she needed him. As she cried, Benny cuddled closer and nudged her with his nose. Our visit lasted over 30 minutes until the patient wanted to lay down to rest. She and her family thanked me, but I was the one who was grateful for the experience. This is what Benny loves doing best—making people feel better.
Benny and I look forward to many more years as members of the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe. During the pandemic, since we have not been able to visit, we completed our certification as an Animal-Assisted Crisis Response team. We will be ready whenever we are needed.”
On behalf of all of us in the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe, thank YOU Ula, for your years of devoted service!