mvPTa pet therapy teams change the lives of people they visit every day. We hope that you enjoy reading the stories provided to us by some of our teams. It is just amazing to see how pet therapy improves the lives of everyone they come in contact with from the patients to family members and even children they read with. We hope that you all find the following testimonials inspirational!

Special Volunteers
by: Rhonda Gosnell
Good Samaritan Hospital Dayton, OH

Pet Therapy dogs are such special volunteers, it is no doubt, just ask their peers.
They fill a need with instant speed, all it takes is just one deed.
A kind look or simple nudge shows us all that we should not judge.
From the moment you see them your heart turns to jelly, just looking at them makes you feel warm in your belly.
They know what you need, an instinctive flair, and when you hug them they feel like a big teddy bear.
They’re here for the patients, and the staff too, they’re showered with hugs it’s just what we do.
Work slows just a little each time they’re around, it keeps us from frowning, it helps calm us down.
Biscuits and bones around every corner, the nose knows where to go and the tail, it just follows.
It’s not just my needs they try to fulfill, it’s them as well that gets a thrill.
Helping others is all they ask, a small price to pay for such a great task
They are part of our team and we’ll never forget, our furry four legged friends, the best friends yet.

Pet Therapy at Bethany Village Benefits Residents, Staff
Friday, June 1, 2012
by Allyson Crawford
Click here to read

A Thank You to Pet Therapy!
By Jane Johnson & Zoey
I want to pass along a Thank You that we received last Thursday.  Sarah Reeves/Duke, John Ehrhart/Zack and Zoey and me participated in the Urbana Intermediate School Career Day.  As Sarah and I were at our meet & greet in the parking lot (John was caught in traffic due to an accident), a gentleman from the school approached with a big smile.  He said that he had promised himself that if he ever ran into a Pet Therapy team, he would give them a big Thank You for all the great things they do.  He was an injured soldier that did his rehab at Wright Patt’s hospital.  He said that we will never know how much the visiting dogs did for him and the other patients. 
We were happy to informed him that the dogs that helped him so much were with mvPTa.  Sarah, John and I did 4 sessions with 5th and 6th graders that day.  This same gentleman stepped in during one of the sessions and told the students that Pet Therapy dogs had helped him when he was injured.  I saw a couple of the kids say...Wow!
So I am passing along his THANK YOU to you all!  As we all know, Pet Therapy makes a difference in people’s lives...We were privileged to hear just how much!

School Reading Programs

Leigh Ann Jacobs, Cookson Elementary Troy, Ohio

Cookson Elementary in Troy, Ohio, has had the pleasure of having mvPTa dogs visit our school for several years. Second graders are able to practice their oral reading fluency by reading to the dogs who are great listeners! This year we have three dog owners and dogs coming to Cookson. They come every week from September until May. Cookson is excited to have Mr. Barber and Emilie and Mr. Ehrhart and Zack returning again this year. The school will welcome Mr. Reeves and Dukey, new to Cookson this year.

The students absolutely love to read to the dogs! Many times I will pass the students in the hallway and they will say, "Mrs. Jacobs, is Emilie coming today?" Or "Mrs. Jacobs, I get to read to Zack today!" The kids usually bring their own books to read but sometimes the dogs will bring in some of their favorites like Marly & Me or Clifford. They may even draw their dog friends a special picture or write about them in their journal. Over the school year they develop a special connection with the dogs and their owners as well as getting great practice in reading!

Thank you, mvPTa, for providing such a great opportunity for our second graders! We really appreciate it!

Pet Therapy is not only for Patients

by Jager James (Retired mvPTa Therapy Dog)

It was our first visit to Dayton Children’s Hospital and we had just finished visiting Outpatient Surgery. There weren’t very many kids in our department that day (maybe 5-6 kids). Mom had run into Cyndi Westfall on her way out of Outpatient Surgery and asked if there was a better time for us to come, as we didn’t see many kids that day. Cyndi told Mom, “It doesn’t matter to her if we see 5 kids or 50 kids, it just means a lot to the ones that we see.” (Geesh, isn’t that what Mom tells her pet therapy teams in her classes that she teaches for mvPTa?!) With that said, Mom and I headed down the long hall to the parking lot where I saw a lady doctor that looked like she wanted to pet me…so I stopped to get some “love” from her. She kneeled down next to me and cuddled with me. She thanked Mom a couple of times for letting her hug me…and as always, Mom said, “That’s what we’re here to do”. Then she said, “You don’t know how much I needed this…as we just had a baby pass away.”

Moral of the story…It’s not how many people you visit…even if you only touch one person’s heart…you have done well! I truly felt that I was able to help that doctor out that day…if only for the couple of minutes I spent with her.

Whatever it takes

Every week Bronwen and I go to my daughter’s (combined 1st-3rd grade) classroom for reading time. Each child picks out a book, or a chapter of a book, to read. During this reading time, the children can sign up to read to Bronwen, the reading teacher, or the classroom teacher. Needless to say, Bronwen’s list is oftentimes the only one with names on it! Even the children who are reading at middle school level want their time with Bronwen.

One month we missed three weeks because of appointments and family illnesses. When we returned to school, Bronwen was greeted like royalty. One child in particular seemed to be reading at a much higher level in just the three weeks we’d been absent. At the end of the day, the reading teacher approached me and inquired as to whether I’d noticed this child’s remarkable advancement, which, of course, I had. Then she told me a story.

During our absence from the classroom, this particular child worked with the reading teacher and really pushed himself. The teacher said he would read a book, then request a harder one, then a harder one. Finally after two weeks, she asked him why he was pushing so hard to read more and more challenging books. His reply was, “Well, sometimes when I read to Bronwen, she falls asleep, so I want to read her something exciting!”

A Patient’s Perspective
by Jim Brittingham

Have you ever wondered why we really do pet therapy?  I mean, after all, we have to go to all the trouble to wash our pets before we visit, we have to get a vet check every six months, we have to meet all the requirements of the facility we are visiting and we have to worry that our pet does not harm any facility or patient.  That is really a lot of trouble and expense for a couple of hours of visiting when we could be sitting at home while our pet romps and plays outside.

Well, I have had the pleasure of being on the receiving end of two pet therapy visits and I can assure you that both experiences were exceptionally pleasant and helped in my recovery.

My first pet therapy visit happened long before I was even aware of what pet therapy was all about or had even heard of mvPTa. I was recovering from major surgery at Wright-Patterson AFB in 2000 when there was a knock on the door and a very friendly Skip Upstrum asked if I wanted a visit from her collie Becky.  Interestingly, my roommate, an elderly minister who liked to sing Christmas Carols in his sleep at 0300 (in April) did not want a visit from a dog.  His loss.  My visit with Skip and Becky was a fun and rewarding experience and certainly was calming for me and enjoyed by the staff.

Then in January 2010 as I was recovering from having my hip revised at Good Sam and I was having a tough time getting over the general anesthesia.  I had not been able to eat anything or get out of bed without being ill.  Joyce and Laura had just left the room in search of some crackers and ginger ale when they came back into the room with Oatmeal,  a new mvPTa graduate.  Dan and his beautiful golden retriever Oatmeal had made a special trip to Good Sam to visit with me.  What a pleasure it was to have them visit for about 30 minutes.

Once again the staff really enjoyed the visit.   

After they left one of the nurses said that my color was coming back and she knew I was feeling better.  She even found some ginger ale and crackers and Joyce ordered some soup that I was able to keep down.  That day I made it to physical therapy without being sick.

Regretfully, Oatmeal passed away after a short membership in mvPTa, but a life filled with bringing happiness to a great number of people.  I know Oatmeal is missed, especially by Dan and his family, all the staff and patients at Good Sam, and by me.

So I know the great effect that a visit from a furry friend can have on a patient.  It is wonderful to watch the change in attitude as a nervous patient or anxious parent rubs, hugs and/or kisses a nice smelling dog and then thanks us for the visit.  So I will never complain about bathing Nino or spending time visiting in hospitals and school programs.  Enjoy your visit time because it makes a difference.

A Final Request

One of our AAT dogs has his own Facebook Page, and he wrote the following account of a very special Hospice visit last week. He and his mom gave me permission to share it with you all. Thanks to all for your service to our patients and their families.

Thursday Mom got a phone call from a Hospice volunteer coordinator, saying a patient had a last see a pet. She's called me before to see if I would visit patients of Hospice that are in extended care facilities...and I usually do. I was told he probably wouldn't make it for another 24 hours. I was at the groomers and Mom said we'd stop there on the way home, since this nursing home he was on the way home. Mom called the groomer and told her to make sure I was super dry especially around my head, neck and ears. So we got to the nursing home and the nurse said the patient was talking and alert an hour before. When we got there, he was deteriorating rapidly. So Mom introduced herself and me to him and she also showed him a photo of me that's on her clipboard, since his eyes were looking up and not following movement. Mom asked him if I it would be alright to take his hand and place it on my head? With no response Mom went ahead and did that since she knew he specifically requested a pet visit, she also had him hold one of my ears and talked to him about how soft the ears feel. The staff was making calls, charting etc. He was definitely dying then and there. Mom took his hand and told him she was so sorry we didn't get there sooner, well..right then..he squeezed moms' hand. Reflex? I don't think so because when she put my leash in his hand he left it open. Anyway..Mom said ‘God Bless You and we'll stay right here with you’. So Mom stayed holding his hand until his heart stopped. I just laid quietly under the bed. Hospice asked if they could share the story, and she told them yes, as she'd emailed the volunteer coordinator that called her in the AM and told her he passed and what transpired. So this is the first time we have literally granted a very last wish. THIS is my job and I love it.

Pet Therapy Makes a Difference

My daughter was miserable after she had surgery at CMC last year....then a nice black lab came in and gave her lots of kisses. She immediately started laughing and was so excited to see him. Thanks to everyone that does Pet Therapy it makes a huge difference in people’s lives!

Pet Therapy Helps the Handler Also
by Sue DeBord

Today I took SeBastian for a stroll at the town and country "mall." It was nice being able to walk indoors and avoid the snow, ice, slush and salt. Sebastian and I met a lot of nice people there today. Especially a little girl with her Mom that wanted to follow us, so cute she was.

Saw a lady that rudely let it be known loudly that she didn't like dogs, especially big hairy, drooly dogs. I felt sadness for her, for she will never feel the comfort that pet therapy brings to many people. I politely said to her in passing "You wouldn't believe all the many smiles he brings to people when we visit nursing homes and Hospice." I understand and realize that not everyone is a pet lover, and that's their right, but oh are they missing a lot!!

It was also as I was leaving T&C, that I realized that just being out with SeBastian and doing "pet therapy" in not only therapeutic for those who want to visit with him, but it made ME feel better, too!  It's been a difficult day today, my brother died 6 years ago, and I felt a lot of sadness this morning, than after our walk/visit to T&C I suddenly realized..hey...I feel better, too. Thanks pet therapy.


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