Saturday, September 19, 2015

Ten Year Anniversary of Pawsitive Comfort Therapy Dogs

September marks the 10th Anniversary of the Pawsitive Comfort Therapy Dog Program at St. Joseph Chelsea Hospital.

In the Summer of 2005 I was looking for somewhere to visit with my Therapy Dog Leo.  We wanted to volunteer in our hometown so I contacted Chelsea Hospital and was put in touch with Recreational Therapist Jan Shamraj.  Together Jan and I worked with the staff of Chelsea Hospital to build this amazing program.  It was no easy task, but the end result is a program like no other and I am honored to be a part of it.

In the early days Leo and I visited every Friday on the Head Pain unit, we were the only team back then.  We visited patients on Head Pain as well as participating in Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy sessions.   There was no shortage of patients and staff wanting to spend time with Leo.

Today there are 12 teams visiting various areas of the hospital and many wonderful dogs who have since retired.

In 2013 Enzo came on board  and has done a wonderful job following in his mentor Leos pawprints.  When Enzo is not volunteering at Chelsea Hospital he is helping kids learn to read at local elementary schools.

Our newest addition to the team is Carmine, he is training and visiting at the Cancer Center.   When he finishes his training he will be moving to Kentucky where he will live with his new family and work at the University of Kentucky Gill Heart Institute.

The teams of Pawsitive Comfort are tested and registered with Allegiance of Therapy Dogs, a national Therapy Dog Program.  We have the highest standards for our teams and provide ongoing training and support.   We screen each team to ensure the 'goodness of fit' for our program.

As an ongoing support for our community, many of the Therapy Dogs of Pawsitive Comfort are members of Canine Comfort Crisis Response Therapy Dogs, a group I helped form in 2012.  Canine Comfort offers support to local communities in times of crisis or a tragic event.

Here's to many more years!!!!