Camp Hobe Visit
By Guest Blogger Peggy Stuart
Posted June 17, 2013
New Therapy Animals of Utah (TAU) and Pet Partners team Viviane Vo-Duc and Daisy started their pet therapy career in a big way: with a trip to Camp Hobé on June 14th. Viviane and Daisy received their acceptance letter from Pet Partners on June 12th, just in time to make the visit.
Camp Hobé at Camp Wapiti is a summer camp experience for children who are in treatment for or survivors of cancer, and their siblings. The camp's mission is to "create an atmosphere that enhances self-esteem, fosters independence and friendships, and creates a sense of belonging," according to the organization's website. This program has been in operation since 1985, says Gaby Jensen, Kids Week Program Director, who says she was referred to TAU by another organization. "The kids love it," she says. "They love feeding and brushing the dogs."
Melissa Lipani and Captain Cowpants (aka "Cappy”) were also experiencing their first visit to Camp Hobé. "We'd been wanting to come, but it was a challenge for our schedule in the past,” Melissa says. She really enjoyed the experience. She explains that when she was growing up, she had a dear friend (more like a sister) who was battling childhood leukemia. Melissa has been active as a volunteer with Camp Good Days and with Special Times as a camp counselor in Rochester, New York. "Cancer has touched my life in many ways this year, having lost my mom and now finding my sweet, retired therapy dog, Honey, battling osteosarcoma," she says. "To be with the kids was inspiring, to see their triumphs against this cruel disease—my heart was lifted up, and it will give me a little more courage to face the challenges in my own life."
Two boys who walked Cappy told Melissa they were both two-year survivors of their cancers. "This to me was a total inspiration," she says. "They were just normal kids who'd fought a scary battle and they are doing wonderfully."
When asked which breed of dog they liked best, the children mostly named the breeds that were represented in our teams this year. Topping the list was pit bulls, perhaps because of their high representation (there were three pitties!), but they also mentioned breeds they had as pets. Two sisters mentioned "morkies" (Maltese/Yorkshire Terrier mix) as their favorite and explained how their father had driven to Idaho to pick up a puppy for their brother, to be his own personal therapy dog. The children talked about how much they enjoyed petting the TAU dogs, feeding them treats, brushing them, walking them around the grassy area, and getting them to do tricks. They also liked learning about what the different breeds were "designed" to do.
What did the dogs like best about the experience? It was clear from how they reacted that they enjoyed the petting, walking, showing off, and belly rubbing, but if they could speak in words, they would undoubtedly say their favorite thing was sensing the happy feelings they evoked in the children.
"Cappy just loves hanging out and getting pets," Melissa says. She explains that for him, lying in the grass in the sunshine and getting a lot of love is the perfect day!
Beginner Daisy handled the experience like a seasoned therapy dog. The only time she became a little stressed was when she found herself surrounded by six children at one time. As soon as they left she did a shake-off, so Viviane decided to give her a little break. After a few minutes away from the children, she returned ready for more attention. Viviane says Daisy developed a reputation for loving belly rubs. "She was still seeking attention from people even after the kids had gone to lunch," she says.
Viviane recommends that TAU members who are considering taking their dogs on future visits to Camp Hobé should definitely do it. "It's an amazing experience. The children and staff are wonderful. It's a great event," she says. "You get to hang out with children and your teammate."
"Don't hesitate—go!" says Melissa. "Camp Hobé is a happy place where kids can be kids." (She recommends that future participants be sure to print a map ahead of time.) Seeing the joy on the children's faces was something Viviane says she will never forget. "Whether Daisy was asking for a belly rub, or a hug, the kids loved her, and she loved them."
In all, there were nine teams participating and an additional human team member, who came along without her dog. Participants this year were Susan West and Runner, Debbie Carr and William, Peggy Stuart and Sunny, Noreen Roeca and Tracy, Julie Parker and Giacomo, Kjori Shelley and Rowdy, Melissa Lipani and Cappy, Viviane Vo-Duc and Daisy, and Jim Espeland and Tulie. Maureen Kilgour also attended but without Gus.
Leader of the Pack
Posted May 31, 2013
After more than 10 years of serving as the Executive Director of Therapy Animals of Utah, Gaelyn Derr (pictured on the left) is retiring. A recent letter from the TAU Board of Directors to TAU members captured the essence of Gaelyn with these words - “Over the last decade, she has imbued our organization with her special gifts of kindness and ability to know everyone in the field (and their animal partners). She has served tirelessly, passionately, and selflessly.” We will miss Gaelyn’s leadership, and we’re grateful that she will continue to volunteer in a variety of capacities.
The letter from the TAU Board of Directors went on to describe founding member, Debbie Carr (pictured on the right), who will assume the position of Executive Director at the end of May after retiring from 33 years of teaching and 16 years on TAU’s Board of Directors – “Most of us already know Debbie as a Pet Partners Instructor or Team Evaluator, recognize her knowledge and expertise in the field of animal-assisted interventions, and know she is just as dedicated and passionate about it as any of us. As she becomes familiar with her new role, she’ll be relying on our many well-functioning staff teams to keep things moving smoothly and to help provide the support we want our members to have as they volunteer with their animal partners.”
Debbie looks forward to her new role in TAU saying, “I'm excited to be spending all my time working with therapy animals, their people and the facilities and clients we serve. I hope to follow in Gaelyn's footsteps to help Therapy Animals of Utah grow!”
TAU expresses our sincere appreciation to Gaelyn Derr and Debbie Carr for their invaluable experience, expertise and dedication to lead Therapy Animals of Utah. Good things continue to be in our future!
Fur, Fun & Fotos at the Farm
Posted May 24, 2013
If a picture says a thousand words, then these images speak volumes.
Therapy Animals of Utah was pleased to partner with Elaina of Elaina ReNae Photography Design at Wheeler Farm on April 20 for our Fur, Fun & Fotos at the Farm fundraiser. The event provided participants with beautiful professional photography portraits of themselves and their pets in a natural outdoor setting for a very reasonable price. And, it raised $500 for TAU.
By the way, Elaina is not only an excellent photographer who puts customers at ease. She is also an animal lover and a TAU member who volunteers with her Golden Retrievers, Abby Lynn and Maggie, at Herriman Library and Copper Hills Youth Center.
Below, are a few photos of the activity. Click here to see the professional album on Elaina's site. Thank you, Elaina, and thanks to everyone who participated at our first Fur, Fun & Fotos at the Farm!
|Elaina takes great photos of animals and people.
|Behind the scenes: Getting the right shot.
| Great photos take teamwork!
Pause for Paws
Posted May 4, 2013
Therapy Animals of Utah was pleased to have the opportunity to provide some relaxation during Pause for Paws - Student Stress Relief at the University of Utah College of Social Work on April 18 and 19. Our furry partners provided a welcome break from intense studies for finals.Seven TAU teams participated and were popular among students and staff.
Most of the TAU teams included dogs; however, one therapy cat, aptly named "Mr. Happy" participated (pictured on the right). Mr. Happy's handler, Dee, said, "Mr. Happy just seemed to go into a 'happy' coma. He sat in several laps, cuddling and purring. Two little kids (maybe a year or so old) thumped and pulled on him, and multiple people (5 or 6) petted him simultaneously, and he just laid there. I'm still amazed just thinking about it again." Of course, we think Mr. Happy and our other therapy cats are downright amazing.
Therapy pit bull Captain Cowpants (pictured on the left) volunteers regularly at the university and made a special visit during Pause for Paws. His handler, Melissa, shared the following thoughts - "We had a wonderful time with the students. Everyone seemed to relax with us there, and we were able to share a lot about TAU and what it's like to be an animal-assisted therapy team. The University of Utah College of Social Work is always so welcoming to our teams, and we really enjoy our time there (and I think the students and faculty do as well!). We've jokingly said that Captain Cowpants is the unofficial mascot of the College of Social Work." Whether Captain Cowpants is clowning around, or bringing comfort and love in his unconditional ways, he and our other therapy animals spread a lot of joy by what they do.
TAU sincerely thanks the University of Utah College of Social Work for welcoming us to participate with the students!
Photos courtesy of the University of Utah College of Social Work, Gaelyn Derr and Dion Dostaler
|Lola entertained the students by doing tricks.
|Sage enjoyed being petted as much as the students enjoyed petting her.
| Tacoma takes his volunteer work seriously.
|Little Man Tate, a Chinese Crested Hairless, has volunteered at the University of Utah for 10 years.
|This was one of Tinkerbell's first visits as a certified therapy animal.
| Rowdy and Kjori were on hand to help provide some welcome stress relief.
TAU at K9 Karnival
Posted April 16, 2013
TAU was pleased to be invited to participate with Have Pittie pit bull rescue and the Humane Society of Utah at the Central City Rec Center on April 13. Here are a few photos showing the fun fundraising and public awareness event that was held to benefit animals.
|Kandie the Therapy Pittie is a big hit.
|Participants kept Lizzy busy drawing sketches.
| A happy recipient of one of Lizzy's sketches.
|Looking pretty - Tracey, a certified Therapy Animals of Utah tripawd.
|Stevie the Wonder Dog worked the kissing booth and won the kissing contest.
|| Rowdy, decked in his TAU bandana, and his handler, Kjori, mingled with the crowd.
Therapy Animals of Utah in the Classroom
Posted March 29, 2013
Therapy Animals of Utah appreciates Pioneer Elementary school for the opportunity to participate in their classroom. Thanks to the Standard Examiner for publishing a great article about the wonderful work two of our therapy teams are doing. Special appreciation goes to our teams: Vickie and her golden retriever, Bert, and Marian and her mixed terrier, Toby, for the fabulous volunteer work they do!
To read the article and see some great photos of the students interacting with Bert, please click here -
Therapy dogs brighten classtime for Pioneer Elementary students
If you're a Facebook member, please Like the article!
Posted March 24, 2013
Thanks to everyone who donated, left encouraging comments and showed their support of Therapy Animals of Utah during our March 22 fundraiser!
Your generosity helps us continue bringing love, comfort, hope and healing to those in need through the miracle of the human-animal bond. Thank you!
If you missed it, it's not too late - Donations are accepted any time. Click here to donate. Thank you.
Love TAU Give TAU
Posted March 21, 2013
We're excited to share this video featuring some of our fabulous animals eloquently telling the story of what they do. Thanks to the stars of this movie, their handlers, and the producer / director / videographer who put it all together. If you like Therapy Animals of Utah, please click to make a donation on March 22. Thank you!
March 22 is Love UT Give UT, an online opportunity to raise funds for non-profit organizations in Utah.
Posted March 18, 2013
You’ve heard of March Madness - Here at TAU you could say we have Furry Flurry. (More accurately, it could be called Furry, Feathery and Hooved Flurry, but … well, you know how writers like to use alliteration.)
March 9 – Pet Partners Handler Training Course – This course was re-scheduled from January due to snow. Seventeen students attended; some came from as far away as Idaho, including our neutral team: Wendee and Ben. Our Pet Partner certified instructors, Debbie, Stacy and Gaelyn are always happy to meet new students and conduct training. Here are a few photos highlighting the day -
|Stacy and Debbie keep everyone's attention.
||Liberty assists with a toothbrushing demo.
|| Susie demonstrates how NOT to volunteer.
Super Heroes – We think all of our therapy animals are heroes in the ways they help people.
Our pit bull handlers often go the extra mile to overcome stereotypes and misperceptions about the breed. Because of this, Stevie the Wonder Dog and Kandie the Therapy Pittie are both recognized as Super Hero Pit Bulls in the Winter 2012/2013 issue of AmericanDog magazine. And, Kandie is also recognized as a Famous Dog with Friends. Click here to see their pictures and write-up on pages 35, 55 and 63 - Super Heroes. Congratulations to Stevie (and Jen) and Kandie (and Kelly)!
Mark your calendar! We hope you'll join us at some of these upcoming events -
March 22 - Love UT Give UT – The Community Foundation of Utah is sponsoring Love UT Give UT on March 22. This is a 24 hour online fundraising event to help Utah non-profit organizations. Donations on March 22 will have an opportunity to be matched and organizations will have an opportunity to win special grants, so it’s a great way to make your gift go even further. If you like Therapy Animals of Utah, please make a donation on March 22. Thank you!
April 17-18 - Paws for Pause Student Stress Relief at the College of Social Work – Our therapy animals enjoy being with people, and we’re looking forward to providing some much needed relief for the students!
April 20 – Fur, Fun and Fotos at the Farm – This is a wonderful opportunity to get a professional photograph of you and your pet(s) by Elaina Renae Photography Design at Wheeler Farm - and help TAU at the same time! Click here for details.
TAU in the News
Posted February 27, 2013
On February 24, 2013, Fox 13 News aired a story about the graduate level class Introduction to Animal-Assisted Interventions that is taught at the University of Utah College of Social Work. TAU members Deborah Carr, MEd, and Janelle Nimer, PhD, co-teach the class.
TAU appreciates Fox 13 News for airing the story so that more people become aware of the benefits of animal-assisted therapy. Click here to watch the news clip and read the article - U of U students learn how animals can assist therapy
To let Fox 13 News know that you appreciate these types of stories and encourage more of the same, please consider going to their Facebook page and Like or Share the article.
Posted February 26, 2013
We said goodbye recently to Monique, a beautiful fourteen and a half year old Sheltie who was a therapy dog with her handler, Susie, for many years. Together they were a welcome sight at the former Cottonwood Hospital, various assisted living facilities and special events. Because of her calming, well-mannered presence, Monique also helped mentor many new TAU members. “She was the most lovely Sheltie I could have asked for,” says Susie. “She was a terrific therapy dog for years, and I was so proud to be seen with her!” Monique touched countless lives and is missed dearly.
Can a Shelter Animal Become a Good Therapy Animal?
Posted February 23, 2013
Many of TAU's therapy animals were found in an animal shelter. Animals that have been rescued are some of the most loving companions and helpers that there are. Dogs, cats, birds, horses and a variety of other animals can become therapy animals. An animal that is social, calm, predictable and likes being with people possesses some of the key qualities for being a good therapy animal. Canine Good Citizenship training for dogs, social exposure, and Pet Partners® Handler Training Course and mentoring for the human end of the leash help add the finishing touches.
An excellent example of a shelter animal turned therapy animal is Kandie, the Therapy Pittie, who was featured in an article in Pets in the City magazine. A quote from the article captures the essence of Kandie (and many of our therapy animals) - "Kandie is an amazing example how Pit Bulls and Shelter Dogs can be great additions to your family and the community!" Click here: Saving Lives in the City - Kandie to read the entire article on page 10 of the February 2013 issue.
You know you're an animal lover if ...
Posted February 10, 2013
During the Therapy Animals of Utah (TAU) Volunteer Appreciation Dinner in 2012, TAU volunteers were asked to complete this sentence: "You know you're an animal lover if ..." Click here to enjoy the humorous answers from some honest-to-goodness animal lovers - TAU volunteers.
Here's wishing you a happy Valentine's day with your loved ones - human and furry!
At the Head of the Class
Posted January 30, 2013
Giacomo and his handler, Julie (pictured on the left), and Captain Cowpants (aka Cappy) and his handler, Melissa (pictured on the right), were literally at the head of the class in January when they participated in a graduate-level elective course, Introduction to Animal-Assisted Interventions, offered by the University of Utah College of Social Work.
Each week, an experienced TAU team participates in the class to help give the students hands-on demonstrations of how to integrate animal-assisted interventions and animal-assisted therapy as treatment modalities.
On the right – Pictured with Cappy (from left to right) are TAU Board of Directors Co-Chairs Janelle Nimer, PhD, and Deborah Carr, MEd, who co-teach the course, and Cappy’s handler, Melissa. On the far right, Cappy relaxes before his entrance into the classroom.
They're Here - Therapy Pittie T-Shirts!
Posted January 25, 2013
The TAU team of Stevie the Wonder Dog and his handler, Jen, are offering a variety of T-shirts that have pictures featuring our therapy pitties. The pictures were designed by Stevie's talented cousin Lizzie.
One shirt design (shown on the left) features nine TAU therapy pitties: Boss, Traci, Honey, Rowdy, Haapu, Tacoma, Captain Cowpants, Stevie the Wonder Dog and Kandie the Therapy Pittie, all bringing comfort, love, hope and healing.
Sales of the T-shirts help raise funds for TAU. Check out the T-shirts at: Therapy Pittie T-Shirts and please consider making a purchase or a surprise gift for someone! Thank you!
TAU is Going International … in a manner of speaking, that is!
Posted January 24, 2013
We are honored and pleased to announce that the abstract of TAU member and Board of Directors Co-Chair Janelle Nimer, Ph.D., LCSW, was accepted for a poster presentation at the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO), 13th Triennial Conference: “Humans and Animals: The Inevitable Bond.” The conference will be held in July in conjunction with the 150th annual convention of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in Chicago, Illinois.
Dr. Nimer's poster session is titled "What’s Working: Successful Practices of a Local AAI Organization" and will highlight TAU's training, mentoring and support system, along with information about the elective: An Introduction to Animal-Assisted Interventions Core Course that is currently being offered to graduate students at the University of Utah College of Social Work.
This is a huge achievement with far out-reaching impact, and we are very proud of Dr. Nimer.
Class Offered By University of Utah College of Social Work
Posted January 16, 2013
We are very pleased to announce that the University of Utah College of Social Work is offering a 3 credit hour elective called An Introduction to Animal-Assisted Interventions Core Course that is available for grads, undergrads and doctorate students. The course was developed by and is being taught by TAU members Deborah Carr and Janelle Nimer, PhD, LCSW. This is a huge milestone and a longtime dream for both women, and TAU is very proud of their great achievement to make this class a reality.
The class objective is to prepare therapists to become excellent partners in animal-assisted therapy. Along with the study materials, a registered TAU team will be on hand at each class to interact with students and help demonstrate what our animals do best.
Posted January 8, 2013
Therapy Animals of Utah had a great staff retreat on Saturday, January 5. Pictured at the left is Board of Directors Chairperson Deborah Carr leading us in a discussion on goals.
Pictured on the right: Passing the baton – the Evaluations Coordinator baton, that is. We are very thankful to Kris (left) for all that she has done for TAU. Now that she is temporarily leaving the country, Kristie (right) has graciously volunteered to fill the gap when Kris leaves. Thank you ladies!
Pictured on the left: This is not the typical TALEs with TAU setting in which a youngster reads to a therapy animal. Nonetheless, it was a truly inspiring and enjoyable animal book authored and illustrated by 4th graders!
On the right: It wasn’t just staff and board members that attended Saturday’s retreat. Pictured here with Nancy are two of her six Chinese Crested Hairless dogs, Junebug and Louie. Who can resist smiling at these adorable faces?!
We look forward to a productive year!
Ringing In The New Year
Posted January 3, 2013
The caption for this photo could be: "What?! It's the new year already?"
Yes, it is, and we hope the new year arrived in a wonderful way for you.
TAU wishes you a happy and healthy 2013, and we look forward to many continued (and new!) opportunities to serve others.
Ori, pictured to the left, belongs to one of our TAU staff members.
The Best Gifts
Posted December 25, 2012
Animals instinctively give unconditional love and acceptance. Those are two of the qualities that attract people to animals and that cause the animals to be so good at providing animal-assisted therapy and animal-assisted activities. In addition, each of our therapy animals has unique characteristics and antics that endear him or her to the people they visit, and their visits give people something to look forward to.
Our human volunteers give consistently of their time to receive training, and to groom and accompany their animals for visits with the public. Gifts of oneself are some of the most precious gifts of all; and TAU is thankful to all of our volunteers: two-footed and four-footed!
Wishing you all a very happy and healthy holiday season!
The Salt Lake Tribune Article
Posted December 21, 2012
If you happened to read our blog in October and November, you might recall the fabulous fundraiser that Butler Middle School did for Therapy Animals of Utah (TAU). The Salt Lake Tribune recently published a good article about it. Click here to read the article - Butler Middle School students raise money for Therapy Animals of Utah
Thanks to The Salt Lake Tribune for the article and photo. And, we sincerely appreciate the Butler Middle School students whose actions helped TAU and demonstrated their passion about our work and therapy animals!
Don't Know What Gift to Buy?
Posted December 18, 2012
Is there someone on your gift list that's difficult to buy for?
Here's an idea - You can give a financial donation to TAU in honor of your favorite holiday, someone’s birthday, anniversary or other special event. Provide the person’s name and mailing address along with your donation, and TAU will send the person a gift acknowledgement. This is a very meaningful gift, and those who have received such a gift have reported that they love it! What a nice way to spread the message about TAU and solve the question of what to give someone “who has everything!”
Suki, pictured here, belongs to TAU staff member, Jen N.
Or, how about giving someone a Therapy Pit Bull T-shirt? The design (shown at the right) features 3 of TAU's therapy pit bulls - Kandie, Captain Cowpants and Stevie the Wonder Dog. You can view and order the shirts at Therapy Pit Bull T-Shirts. The profit helps Therapy Animals of Utah.
To view our archive of previous blog posts, click here.