This past weekend our pet therapy group got together for our annual holiday gathering. Twice a year the upright volunteers and their 4 legged furiends get together and this one was particularly fun. While we bipeds work with our dogs at hospital and hospice, it’s solitary work and we rarely get to see one another so these group events are especially entertaining. These volunteers and their pets give so much of themselves to the program and to patients. Just seeing these folks always makes me feel particularly humble. A tip of the hat to each and every one of them for their ability and willingness to serve and for their commitment to such a worthy endeavor.
What is most remarkable by our get-togethers with the dogs is the lack of any kerfuffles among them. This is my fourth joint get-together and I’ve never seen any outbreaks between the dogs (though I know a couple don’t attend because they cannot handle all the folderal of so many dogs). Some dogs stay at home while their handlers come and share the spirit of the season. They are terrific with patients but don’t handle well the stress of the ‘controlled chaos’ often seen when so many pooches are running around. 🙂
For our gatherings, we all bring a dish to share and in the spirit of the holiday season, we picked a group to support with items they need. This year we chose PetAid Colorado, a local organization that cares for underprivileged pets and animals at risk. This group serves low-income, often elderly people who want to experience the dear companionship of a pet who might not be able to afford their care otherwise. We felt PetAid well represented the spirit of love and bonding that exists between owners and their pets and which completely exemplifies exactly who we are when we do pet therapy.
Sam, being the “canine concierge” that he is, was over the moon seeing everyone. He seriously crushes on Truffles, a chocolate Newfie who is a favorite of the teammates as well as at the hospital. Her owner, Lyn is a tireless volunteer with the group, and together with Joy and Roxanne are three of the organizers that makes our group tick and run smoothly.
Sam was so happy to see his big girlfriend but there were some new pups he got to hang with as well. Sasha, a deaf spaniel and Kaisha, a Husky mix who loves to get vocal both of whom he’d not met before. While there weren’t quite as many in attendance as last year, we still had the two Shelties, Akira and Bismarck; Cissy, the American Eskimo; Heidi, the Giant Schnauzer; BB, the Labradoodle; Rusty and Bindee, Chihuahuas; Teddy, the miniature Poodle; Wee Brit, the Yorkie; Munchkin, Little One and Lily representing the Greyhound contingency as well as Blanca, the sweet Havanese and Zeva, another Standard Poodle were all there as well. As you can see from the group photos, it’s quite a challenge getting all the dogs and their owners to sit/stay in the photos at the same time (sadly those were the two best shots of the dozens I snapped of the group)! 🙂
The one sad note was that our friend and fellow teammate, Mary announced that Cissy, the American Eskimo will retire after a 9-year career with the program. Thankfully though, Mary however will continue to (fabulously, I might add) produce our newsletters and remain with the group in spirit. We will all miss her and Cissy as teammates but send every best wish for a bright future to Mary and her family for her amazing service to the program.
It was so good seeing all these special people and their dogs. Sam and I are so fortunate to be affiliated with such an amazing group of volunteers and their equally remarkable dogs at an event celebrating the holidays. These people and their canines continue to inspire me and fill my heart with awe and respect for all pet therapy groups. Well done everyone, another great job this year! <3
With love and peace to you and yours. 🌲