Pet Therapy Program Now Part of International Group
The assisted pet therapy program under the Volunteer Services Department at St. Joseph of the Pines (SJP) has been named a chapter of Therapy Dogs International (TDI) Inc.
Up to 18 dogs, all ranging in age from under two-years-old to some pushing membership in the canine senior citizen society, are now collectively members of TDI Chapter 224 of Southern Pines.
At SJP there are poodles both toy and standard; Labrador retrievers, Doberman pinschers, a bichon frise, mixed breeds, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, a schnauzer, Shih Tzu, dachshund and Havanese, as well as a miniature pinscher and springer spaniel. They all have their AKC Canine Good Citizen certificates and are registered and are in good standing with TDI. They have been tested for temperament and obedience by a TDI evaluator during a lengthy assessment process.
"Of all the dog activities I have trained my dogs for and participated in over the past four decades, nothing compares to sharing my >loving dogs with people in a >pet-facilitated visit," says Barbara Randall, a 22-year veteran of dog training and instruction and member of TDI's new chapter.
"Being named a TDI chapter is an honor," says Jeralie Andrews, director of volunteer services for St. Joseph of the Pines. "The primary purpose for securing these well-trained, pampered and sought after dogs is for the emotional support they provide to St. Joseph Health Center nursing home residents and patients of Therapy Village. The dogs demonstrate a sincere bond to the people confined to a bed or wheelchair, as well as to those here temporarily at St. Joseph's Therapy Village."
The discomfort from strenuous occupational and physical therapy exercises endured by patients somehow seems to be eased when the canine/volunteer team enters the room. The so-called, aptly coined assisted pet therapy is many-fold. The dog makes eye contact with the resident or patient. This can be initiated by the volunteer, but most likely the dog's keen perception draws it to the person.
Andrews and the other assisted pet therapy volunteers- Carol Huston, Helen Gibbons, Barbara Randall, Jim and Kathy Lupini, Barbara Mattern, Nancy Miner, Martha Server, Martha McDonnell, Myrna Sandall, Marilyn Elliott, Carol Wilkinson, Paula Youngblood, Wendy Preble, Christine Taliaferro and Veronica Little, - often performs their volunteer duties separately, but do come together for special occasions. They can now function under the chapter to promote facilitated pet visits and responsible pet ownership as well as doing community benefits projects.
Some of the TDI Chapter 224 teams volunteer in Moore County Schools and the Coventry of St. Joseph of the Pines, an assisted-living community. A new volunteer venture for them is visiting Haven House, Friend to Friend's women's shelter and safe house, an agency supported by St. Joseph of the Pines.
For more information about all volunteer opportunities at St. Joseph of the Pines, call Andrews at (910) 246-1139.
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