Students, staff and faculty at Globe University-Madison West enjoyed some pet therapy from Dogs on Call during finals week. More than 25 individuals visited the friendly canines, bringing smiles to all.
Dogs on Call is the local chapter of the international organization Pet Partners. Dogs on Call volunteers visit a variety of locations including: Meriter, UW-Hospital and the VA hospital, nursing homes, hospice, Capitol Lakes Heath Center, Dry Hootch and a variety of schools and libraries. Volunteers participate in the R.E.A.D. program (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) and in a dog safety program for children.
The dogs that visited Globe University-Madison West included a French bulldog named Charlotte Rose, a Newfoundland named Sacajawea, Buttons the Beagle and Murray, a lab mix. They spent the afternoon being stroked, cuddled and loved by those looking for a break from finals.
When asked how she got involved with Dogs on Call, Artie, Sacajawea’s owner, described how her son, who had been involved with the organization, couldn’t make it to one of his volunteer commitments, so Artie stepped in for him. She left feeling great and realized that this was something she wanted to do. She enjoys working at the VA and in retirement homes.
“One of the best things is the VA hospital acute care,” she shared. “Veterans have done so much for us, it’s important to give back to them.” Artie explained that when she visits nursing homes, she and Sacajawea are some of the only visitors residents have. She explained that giving back like this is very satisfying for both her and Sacajawea.
Barbara (Murray’s human) explained that it is important that each dog find its niche. “Not all dogs enjoy going to hospitals or hospice as it can be emotionally taxing for them.” she said. “It is also important to discover each animal’s visiting style; some do okay in patient rooms, others prefer to be in a lounge and have patients come to them.”
Students and staff learned that therapy dogs differ from service dogs in that they are meant to provide stress relief and companionship to people. They do not have the same privileges or responsibilities as fully trained service dogs. It was also interesting to learn that there are other therapy animals such as cats and miniature horses.
The requirements to be a therapy animal include: being well behaved, calm, and comfortable around a lot of people. They also require a bath within 24 hours of a visit. All therapy dogs must go through a training and final evaluation before they are put on the roster to make visits.
When asked why she volunteers, Liz (Charlotte’s human) said, “It’s fun and I have a great dog and I just have to share her with everyone.” Liz went on to explain that Charlotte Rose loves being a therapy dog, “She loves people and is enthralled by being around people.”
Liz explained that pet therapy is really helpful during finals week because it helps relieve stress and anxiety, can assist in alleviating homesickness, provides comfort and joy, and reminds students of their pets that they might not get to see very often.
Globe University-Madison West would like to thank Dogs on Call for visiting our campus and looks forward to having them visit again in the near future.
By Globe University-Madison West Campus Librarian, Amy O’Shea