Pets and Friends’ Featured Member

PETS AND FRIENDS IS HONOURED TO HAVE SUCH FANTASTIC PET VISITING TEAMS SHARING THE HEALING COMFORT AND COMPANIONSHIP OF ANIMALS IN THE LOWER MAINLAND. IN AN EFFORT TO HIGHLIGHT OUR DEDICATED VOLUNTEERS, PETS AND FRIENDS IS PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THE FEATURED MEMBER INITIATIVE, DESIGNED TO FEATURE A DIFFERENT MEMBER EVERY MONTH.

November 2017: Meet Pet Therapy Team Kate and Daisy.

KATE AND DAISY

My dog Daisy and I have been volunteering at a complex care facility, Brock Fahrney, for about three (3) months now.  We go once a week and spend about an hour and a half.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when we first started out.  Would my dog be cheery, bored or too enthusiastic?  Would I be too tempted to be the social worker I am in the other part of my week?  It took about 3 visits to find our way.  That lovely way includes lighthearted conversation and such appreciation from the dog loving residents.  For Daisy, she receives wonderful pats, the odd treat and has been sung to every time we go ( “Daisy, Daisy, I’m half crazy over the love of you…”).  She gives them such a great time…a lick on the cheek, a little vocalizing, and always a happy wagging greeting!  She’s even been up on the odd bed, with permission.

I have been so surprised at how much I receive from being there.  I so look forward to going, it warms my heart to see my sweet dog be so happy to greet residents, families and staff.  They so enjoy her presence!

DAISY AT THE PARK

Simple pleasures and a few profound moments.  One visit, a resident put out his hand to me after a little play with Daisy.  His wife was present and she didn’t realise that he was asking me for a treat to give his furry friend.  She was in tears that he was able to remember this from one visit to another.

Daisy and I do lots of fun things together…walks, swimming at the river, ball games and those wonderful grandkids.  Her new job is right up there with all of these favourite things!

Thanks, Kate and Daisy, for helping Pets and Friends actualize our mission by sharing the healing comfort and companionship of animals through pet therapy visitations.


September 2017: Meet Pet Therapy Team Cynthia and Ryder.

PET THERAPY TEAM CYNTHIA AND RYDER

I knew from the first time I met Ryder that he was unique. He was a two year old rescue dog who had been found as a stray but the one thing that everyone noticed was his calm manner. He is an active black lab who is fond of hiking and swimming but I always knew he would make a great therapy dog.

I heard about Pets and Friends from a friend of mine. Now, seven years later, Ryder and I are visiting seniors once a week at Cedar Garden Assisted Living in North Vancouver. We have been volunteering for about two months.

Ryder and I start our visit at Cedar Garden in the main lobby and spend time with some of the seniors there before moving on to visit others in their rooms.

Ryder relishes the friendly reception he receives and loves to be patted and have his ears scratched as we make the rounds. I appreciate seeing the smiles on the resident’s faces as they interact with Ryder. It is wonderful to observe how an animal can light up their spirits. I feel privileged to hear about their interesting lives and Ryder and I leave after each visit with a feeling that they have benefited from a special connection with man’s best friend.

Thanks to all the volunteers at Pets and Friends who make this possible.

RYDER POSING FOR THE CAMERA

Thank YOU, Cindy and Ryder, for participating in Pets and Friends’ pet therapy program!! 


August 2017: Therapy Dog, Daisy, and her Pet Parent, Sondi, bring joy and comfort to residents at Grandview Towers.

Sondi and Daisy spending time together.

How long have you been volunteering with Pets and Friends? Since February 2016.

How did you get involved with Pets and Friends? Not long after we got Daisy, I knew she would be a wonderful pet visitation dog. She’s friendly, loves people and is very easygoing. Someone – I must admit I can’t recall who – recommended Pets and Friends to us. I liked that Pets and Friends required a weekly commitment and that there were a wide range of facilities we could visit.

What is your favorite part about volunteering? I love seeing the joy Daisy brings to the residents. They adore her and she is a part of their family, and I have become a family member too. Aside from my own grandparents, I’ve never spent any time with seniors. It’s been nice for me to get to know the residents, hear about their lives and families, and understand a little bit more about their point of view.

Describe a typical visitation. We visit every Thursday. The facility has three buildings, and we visit two of them. All of the visits are in the common spaces of the buildings – we don’t go into people’s apartments. During the first half of the visit, we go to the common room and spend time with whoever wants to come and see us. In the second building, the residents are in the dining area having afternoon tea so we have drinks and snacks and chat.

To date, what is your favorite memory of volunteering? There are too many! The residents have pooled their money a few times so I can buy special treats for Daisy. It’s thoughtful and touching for us every time.

What do you think is the most important part of your visits? My main goal is to offer the joy of being with a pet. Animals help us relax and de-stress, make us feel happy and, if they’re goofy like Daisy is, entertain us. I think Daisy cheers us all up! Also, it’s important to me to give back and this is one small way I can do that.

Daisy sitting pretty!

What is Daisy’s favorite part about visiting? I think Daisy finds the visits mentally stimulating and exciting. There are plenty of people coming and going, and she receives a lot of attention. I’m not going to lie – she also loves the treats! I give each resident a small amount of treats when they see her and she likes to put her head in people’s laps or give them sad looks until they feed her.

Tell us about Daisy. We rescued Daisy from the SPCA in September 2014. When she was surrendered, she had a broken hip – she’d had the injury so long her right leg was severely atrophied. Despite whatever challenges she had before she came to us, she was a bundle of happiness from Day 1. She is always in a good mood and is full of energy, sweetness and love. Everything is exciting to Daisy. She adores other dogs, children and people and is always ready for a snuggle. Daisy is calm most of the time – until she knows she’s going for a walk. Then she leaps and spins around and can’t wait to get out the door. Daisy is a dog who lives for being outside – she’ll walk until she drops. She can also be very silly and snoozes in the weirdest positions I’ve seen!

Daisy peeking at the camera!

What do you and Daisy like to do for fun? We walk on-leash in the city, go to the beach or go on off-leash hikes. She just loves being outside and is happy to be in nature.

Is there anything else you would like to add? We really appreciate the opportunity to volunteer with Pets and Friends. We enjoy it immensely!

From all of us at Pets and Friends – we’re so happy to have you both as part of the team and really appreciate the opportunity to share your pet therapy story with others! 


July 2017: Janice Lonnqvist and therapy dogs, Cody and Bella, spread cheer at Abbotsford Hospital.

How long have you been volunteering with Pets and Friends?
I have been volunteering with Pets and Friends for nearly 5 years.

How did you get involved with Pets and Friends?
I found out about Pets and Friends from a friend who was volunteering with her dog. 

Janice with Cody (Left) and Bella (Right)

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
I love how the people are so happy to see the dogs and how happy the dogs are to see the people.

Describe a typical visitation.
We visit in 3 different units, starting in the Adolescent Day Treatment Program and the dogs (we alternate weekly) love seeing the teenagers. The students are there for a semester so Cody and Bella get to know them for that length of time and come to look forward to seeing their friends on a weekly basis. Next we go to the Adult Psychiatric Unit and visit the patients in the lounge area, which means that only those who love dogs will join in…and the dogs just brighten up their day. Typically we don’t see the same patients weekly but sometimes we do. Here it is interesting to see how the dogs know what the patients need, and can be either excitable or just very mellow and relaxed. Lastly we go up to the Pediatric Unit to visit the kids. If the kids are willing the dogs love to jump up on their bed and lay with the child or sit and be loved. Again they seem to know just what each person needs. After that the on-duty dog is pretty much spent and is especially quiet when we get home.

To date, what is your favorite memory of volunteering?
One favorite memory is a lady that was so happy to be loved by Cody that she had many happy tears streaming down her face. It felt great to make someone’s day.

What do you think is the most important part of about your visits?
Cody was in a video that the Adolescent Day Treatment Program put together about teens dealing with mental health issues, and just realizing the impact that the dogs have on students (and people in general) is amazing…

What is your pet’s favorite part about visiting?
Cody and Bella’s favorite part of visiting is all the attention and love they receive.

Therapy Dogs Cody (Left) & Bella (Right)

Tell us about your pups. 
Cody (visiting for 3 years) and Bella (visiting since Feb 2017) both love people to bits and are both so excited on Wednesday mornings. I am not sure how they know how they know what day of the week it is but somehow they do, and they get so excited and feed off of each other’s energy, running to the garage door in anticipation of their visits. I have to get someone to help hold the off-duty dog to get the on-duty dog out the door. It is quite something to see…

What do your pups like to do for fun?
Cody is a swimmer – you just can’t keep him out of the water once you get there! – whereas Bella’s favorite thing is to bug her brother. They are just like kids!

Is there anything else you would like to add?
We are so blessed to have an amazing program in Pets and Friends!  It means so much to me that I am also a pet screener and a member of the board in the President capacity.  If you are a member and would love to take a more active role in Pets and Friends please let us know!

We’re delighted to have you, Janice, and the pups as part of the Pets and Friends team! If you are an active pet therapy team with Pets and Friends and would like to be featured, please email info@petsandfriends.org for details.


June 2017: Featuring Pet Therapy Team Leanne Whynot & Waffles

Volunteer Facility: The Residence at Clayton Heights

How long have you been volunteering with Pets and Friends?
I have been volunteering with Pets and Friends since November 2015 after looking for an organization that would provide an opportunity to give back to my community with the help of my dog Waffles.

How did you get involved with Pets and Friends?
I got involved with Pets and Friends after looking for volunteer opportunities in my community in which I could bring Waffles along. He has always had a laid back and friendly disposition, and I thought he would be great at visitation and therapy work. I eventually found out about Pets and Friends and found it was the best fit for us.

What is your favorite part about volunteering?
My favorite part about volunteering is watching the folks we visit brighten up when they see Waffles walking towards them. They are always ready to pull up a chair for us (Waffles is rather short, so I usually have to put him on my lap for visits; his stubby legs make reaching him on the floor a bit of a challenge sometimes!). We are also well known by the staff at the facility and it is a great welcoming environment.

Describe a typical visitation.
Every visitation starts with Waffles realizing where we are the minute we’ve parked, and it’s time to do his favorite job. Waffles has his routine down pat. He leads me to the sign in book and then the volunteer office to say hello to the recreation staff. After that he leads me to the elevator and to the folks we visit regularly. We typically say hello to all the folks that are out watching TV or enjoying the sun on the patio if it’s warm enough. Then we sit and chat with the regulars we always visit and they like to speak about what they did that day, pets they used to have, or the dog park that can be seen through the bay windows in the living room. Waffles and I always love catching up with our friends at the centre.

WAFFLES PICTURED HERE AT SURREY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL’S GET SOME PUPPY LOVE

To date, what is your favorite memory of volunteering?
One of my favorite memories is volunteering for the first time at the hospital during Puppy Love (which we love to go to!). Staff drop by to interact with Pets and Friends’ pet therapy teams and during this particular session the first person to enter literally squealed with joy seeing Waffles. The visit ended with an overjoyed surgeon hanging out on the floor with Waffles.

What do you think is the most important part of about your visits?
I think the most important thing about our visits is giving the opportunity for our friends to talk about their day and have the opportunity to spend time with Waffles, which they find therapeutic. It’s also important to build relationships with the people we visit, as many of them find our visit to be the highlight of their week (as we’ve been told by staff).

What is Waffle’s favorite part about visiting?
Waffles’ favorite part about visiting is when he is able to snuggle up to a person he is visiting and maybe sneak a kiss or two on their hand.

Tell us about Waffles and what you both like to do for fun.
Waffles is a three year old Pembroke Welsh Corgi. He was born in southern Oregon and shares his home with his very own brother (also a Pets and Friends therapy dog!) who is a year younger but from the same parents. Waffles loves to trick his brother into giving him toys and chews whenever the opportunity arises. He also loves being chased, which is odd for a herding breed, and especially enjoys chasing bugs and the occasional rabbit. He is part of the Run Free Flyball Club based in Langley and has recently actively competed in tournaments in the lower mainland. While he may not be built for speed, he makes up with it in attitude! He lives for food and my husband and I often joke that he is a bottomless pit (we have to watch what he eats!). He is a real snuggle bug at home and would be happy to curl up in bed all day. He also loves swimming and retrieving toys from the water.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I just wanted to take the time to thank Pets and Friends for allowing this great opportunity to connect with others in our community, and have a great time while volunteering!

Thanks!

Thank you, Leanne and Waffles, for volunteering with Pets and Friends! If you are an active pet therapy team with BC Pets and Friends and would like to be featured, please email info@petsandfriends.org.


May 2017: Alge Hampson and Atilla share their Pet Therapy Journey.

Volunteer Facility:
BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver Cancer Centre

How long have you been volunteering with Pets and Friends?
2 years, since 2015

How did you get involved with Pets and Friends?
Our family went through an emotional journey with a beloved family member succumbing to cancer several years ago. While visiting at the hospital, Atilla would immediately jump on his bed and just stay there, snuggling and licking hands. So, it was Atilla who gave me the idea of volunteering together, and all I had to do was search Google and find the program that would help us start.

Alge and Atilla at 2017 Pet Lover Show!

What is your favourite part about volunteering?
Volunteering at the Cancer Centre is emotional every time. It breaks my heart to see so many young people affected by this tricky disease. If only for couple minutes Atilla can distract the patients, reduce their stress, get a smile, then our visit is a success and I am happy.

Describe a typical visitation.
Wednesday morning is our volunteering day. We live half an hour walking distance from the Centre, and once Atilla figures out that is where we are headed, he starts pulling me like crazy – he is so excited to go. We are still working on that excitement part, as he announces himself loudly, happily greeting the reception and anyone who would say hello.  We spend most of our time on chemo floor: patients spend hours there locked to their chairs, so we walk our way through rooms, chatting about anything and everything. Atilla has a thief’s habit of checking out people’s bags for food, and though I don’t allow it, his goofiness and naughty behaviour usually get most of attention and laughs. He remembers every nurse or clerk station where he gets biscuits, so he won’t allow me to skip a floor or a waiting room.

Atilla in a play bow.

To date, what is your favourite memory of volunteering?
During one visit at the waiting room of radiation therapy an older lady was knitting which caught Atilla’s attention so much he just wouldn’t let it go – he had to have that yarn and figure out what was it about. The whole room was laughing to tears at his determination, including the lady, who promised to knit him a ball. We didn’t expect to see her again as patients change constantly, but surprise surprise – the following week there she was, waiting for Atilla with a knitted ball. It may sound silly but it felt so nice. She was coming back to the Centre not only for her treatment but to see Atilla again. We still have that ball, though it is well chewed on by now.

What do you think is the most important part of about your visits? 
Cancer is scary. It paralyzes one’s thoughts, so every positive emotion counts in order to recharge the batteries and not to give up. I am happy if we can help with Atilla behaving all silly and funny and I feel that is exactly what patients need: to laugh at a goofy dog, to talk about their pets and all the naughty things they do. They need a distraction and that is what we bring.

What is Atilla favourite part about visiting? 
Volunteering is special for Atilla for all the cuddles and biscuits he receives. He loves people, so all the attention feels heavenly to him. However, his favourite part is visiting one lady who works there, who has a squeaky ball for him in her desk. For whatever reason, that ball is the best of the best and Atilla gets to play with it for five minutes towards the end of our shift.

Tell us about Atilla.
Atilla is a miniature Schnauzer with a big-as-earth personality (I am sure he thinks he is a giant schnauzer…). He is extremely loving and affectionate but also an active and playful dog who loves talking and telling stories, so I was not sure he would be a perfect therapy pet. However, being goofy worked out at the facility we chose and we continue working on him using his inner voice instead.

What do you and Atilla like to do for fun?
With Atilla being so high energy, we walk around False Creek at least 10km a day – we both love Vancouver’s seawall. We also enjoy hiking and gardening at the cottage, his heaven on earth with all the squirrels to chase. Atilla is sure the day will come when he will catch one, and we let him dream on…

Thank you, Alge, for sharing your pet therapy journey! We are thrilled to have you as part of the Pets and Friends team!


March 2017: Meet Pet Therapy Team Susan Morin and Teddi.

Volunteer Facility: Ridge Meadow’s Hospital

How long have you been volunteering with Pets and Friends? 1 ½ years

How did you get involved with Pets and Friends?
I inquired at our local hospital, Ridge Meadows in Maple Ridge, on how to get involved in their Code K9 Pet Visitor Program. They advised me to get screened and trained through Pets and Friends and then to apply back to Ridge Meadows to become members of their volunteer team.

What is your favourite part about volunteering?
The patients’ reactions and smiles every time they visit with Teddi. It is a very rewarding experience.

TEDDI ALL DRESSED UP AND READY FOR ‘WORK’.

Describe a typical visitation.
We visit Ridge Meadows Hospital and Baillie House every Wednesday morning. We cover as much of the hospital as we can manage before Teddi starts falling asleep on laps. He just loves it but it is tiring for him after hours of visiting and engaging with so many people. We visit the general rehab area, the cast room, IV therapy, Oncology, X-ray and Ultrasound, the Lab, the mental health unit and all the waiting rooms along the way. I find that staff and visitors get as much benefit from seeing Teddi as the patients do, so we try to see as many people as possible.

To date, what is your favorite memory of volunteering?
There are so many rewarding memories but will share two of my favorites.

1) We walked into the mental health unit a few months ago and a woman was sitting in a chair sobbing uncontrollably. She motioned that she wanted to see Teddi. I placed him on her lap (he’s just 6.5 lbs of love) and he climbed up her chest and licked the tears from her face. She held him and said repeatedly, “I’m okay little dog.” After a few moments, she calmed right down and thanked me for bringing him to her when she needed him most. I had tears as well and told her that Teddi knew just what to do.

2) While visiting Baillie house one day, an elderly man was sitting in a wheelchair with a visitor beside him (his son). I approached and asked if he liked dogs. The son said that his Dad used to love dogs but had been non-verbal for months. I placed Teddi in his Dad’s lap and to the surprise of us both, the elderly patient hugged Teddi and whispered to him. We’re not sure what he said but it was definitely verbal.

Both of the above were such rewarding experiences, as are so many others.

What do you think is the most important part of about your visits?
The ability for Teddi to bring joy and comfort to those needing it most. He brings smiles to everyone: patients, visitors and staff. Some staff members take a few moments to stop and hold him for a snuggle and you can just see the stress leave them.

What is Teddi’s favourite part about visiting?
Teddi loves the attention. He is so excited to see everyone. If someone walks by him without acknowledging him in some way he wants to turn and chase them down as if to say, “Hello, did you not see me?” He has such a positive effect on most everyone.

Tell us about Teddi.
Teddi is a 6.5 lb Morkie, that is, half Maltese and half Yorkie. He is the perfect little dog; non-shedding, non-allergenic and loves everyone from kids to seniors. When he was just a puppy we took him to visit a friend who was in hospice. He snuggled up to him and wouldn’t leave. Teddi just seemed to know his purpose. When Teddi turned 2 years old, I signed up for the Pets and Friends screening and while there was some concern about his age, I knew he was ready and meant for this.

Teddi gets a bath every Tuesday night before his Wednesday morning visits. He knows the routine, so hops out of bed early on Wednesday mornings because he is so excited to go to work. Every other day of the week, he sleeps until 10:00 a.m. When I put his “Code K9” bandana on him he can barely control his excitement because he knows he is going to work. We park in the back of the lot and he pulls me all the way to the hospital doors because he can’t wait to get there. He truly loves it. I tell all the kids we meet in the hospital that Teddi has a really important job: his job is to make people smile!!! When we get home after our visits he is exhausted and sleeps all afternoon.

SUSAN AND TEDDI, PET THERAPY TEAM

What do you and Teddi like to do for fun?
He LOVES his daily walks and we have to refrain from saying ‘the two Ws’ (Walk and Work) out loud until it is actually time for one or the other as he can hardly contain his excitement. He loves to run, play fetch and play with the children in our lives. Once tired out, Teddi is content to fall asleep on anyone’s lap.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I was a patient at Ridge Meadows Hospital in 2009 and am still an out-patient today. I had breast cancer and related surgeries, and a pet therapy volunteer would often stop by during my chemotherapy sessions. I loved the visits and vowed that when I got better I would volunteer in some way. I received wonderful care at Ridge Meadows and welcome the opportunity to “give back”. I am currently in remission and thankful for every day.

Thank you, Susan and Teddi, for sharing your pet therapy journey! If you know would like to learn more about Pets and Friends’ Pet Therapy Program, please email Katie Oster, Coordinator of Volunteer Services. 


January 2017: Jasmine McCulligh and Milo share their pet therapy journey.

Volunteer Facility:
Burnaby Hospital

How long have you been volunteering with Pets and Friends? Since June 2016

How did you get involved with Pets and Friends
People would always comment on how friendly Milo is and how he immediately made them feel like they were best friends or how he would make a great therapy dog. So I looked into it, and found Pets and Friends!

MILO SMILING AT THE CAMERA

MILO SMILING AT THE CAMERA

What is your favourite part about volunteering?
The change in energy and watching people’s faces immediately light up when they pet Milo or even just see him – that’s my favorite part about volunteering. Some people are a bit hesitant at first, or might be shy, but as soon as they reach down and pet him, he looks at me with this massive open mouth grin and a non-stop wagging tail, and I see how much of an impact he has made in their demeanor.

Describe a typical visitation.
We always start by visiting the Mental Health section of the hospital. The nursing staff hears us coming and Milo is greeted with lots of cuddles right away. Milo really enjoys visiting patients here because the large open common room means he can roll around on the floor playing with patients or snuggle up on the couch. We will then drop in on some of the waiting rooms to visit with patients, their friends and family. Lastly, we go into individual patient rooms after asking the nurses if there are any rooms in particular that they think we should go into. All the while, we are stopping in the halls to talk to people. Milo wants to say ‘Hi!’ to EVERYONE.

MILO AND JASMINE

MILO AND JASMINE

To date, what is your favorite memory of volunteering
One of my favourite memories is when Milo and I were walking down the hall and we passed by the ICU Waiting Room. Someone poked their head out and said, “I thought I heard a dog!” There was a family of about ten in the room and I could feel the tension lifting as each and every one of them bent down to cuddle Milo and receive lots of kisses from him. I quietly stood there and just let them enjoy their time with Milo. This particular experience is exactly why I wanted to get involved with Pets and Friends. He has so much love to give and every time someone comments “this is exactly what I needed” or “thank you” it makes me so proud of Milo and glad Pets and Friends has made visits like this possible.

What do you think is the most important part of about your visits?
I think that having a pet visit is important in a hospital environment for patients, loved ones, and staff because there is likely some level of anxiety in everyone. And if at the end of the day someone can think back on their day and remember the hugs and kisses they received from a dog at the hospital instead of fixating on negative thoughts, I think that can make a huge difference in the mental health of everyone involved.

What is Milo’s favourite part about visiting?
Milo loves the attention. He loves to have people pet him and give him belly rubs. He repays the favour by leaning into you, as well as lots of hugs and kisses (right on the lips!).

RUFF DAY

RUFF DAY

Tell us about Milo.
Milo is a rescue dog from San Antonio, Texas where he was found as a stray and put into a shelter that unfortunately did not have the space for him. Luckily he was brought into a rescue organization, which is where I adopted him about 1.5 years ago. He’s about 3 years old now and although he’s probably a mutt, based on Instagram findings I call him an American Dingo. He has been the most loving dog since I picked him up from the airport. He is always eager to please and loves absolutely everyone. At home he likes to sleep on the couch all day, but as soon as he gets outside he is full of energy and wants to run, run, run! He is the most adaptable dog and nothing phases him.

What do you and Milo like to do for fun?
Milo and I spent almost every day together, all day. He comes to work with me (the office is pet friendly!), but when we aren’t at work, we will be at David Gray Dog Park, hiking on trails, or hanging out at the beach.MILO

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you to Pets and Friends for allowing all of the Teams to participate in pet visits. I feel so lucky to have found Milo and I am so glad I am able to share him with the community. I would highly recommend people to get involved because you really can see the immediate positive effects a pet visit has.


December 2016: Meet Pets and Friends team Katie McCloskey and Maggie.

KATIE & MAGGIE

KATIE & MAGGIE OUTSIDE ST. PAUL’S HOSPITAL

How long have you been volunteering with Pets and Friends?
February 2013

How did you get involved with Pets and Friends?
I had wanted to get back into volunteering and pet visitation appealed to me because it checked off a lot of boxes: direct interaction with others, doing something active and fun with my dog and it was flexible with my weird schedule. I found Maggie in a city shelter in California and within minutes I knew she would love nothing more than to have attention and treats showered on her. Within months of adopting her I applied to Pets and Friends and we’ve been at St Paul’s ever since.

What is your favourite part about volunteering?
I think we all volunteer because it feels good to make others happy. Pet visitation has allowed me to share in moments of joy, humor, sadness and grief with total strangers and it’s a remarkable experience. It’s the only time during the week when I’m not thinking of my concerns. I’m so in the moment with the people that I visit that it likely does just as much for my mental health as it does for the people I visit.

MAGGIE AT PROJECT PAWS, UBC

MAGGIE AT PROJECT PAWS, BRINGING HAPPINESS TO UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

Describe a typical visitation.
Maggie and I have assigned units we visit each week: three mental health units, eating disorders, palliative care and just recently we had the immunodeficiency clinic added to our list. We typically spend about 20 minutes in each unit depending on interest. Sometimes we have special requests to visit patients in other parts of the hospital and then we will add them to our rotation for as long as the patients stay in the hospital. In most of the units we’ll sit in the common rooms and then the patients can come to us. For palliative care and eating disorders we’ll go around from bed to bed.

To date, what is your favorite memory of volunteering?
When I went through training at St Paul’s I was reminded that nobody likes to be in a hospital and that we might face a fair share of anger and frustration during our visits. My time there has been almost universally positive and I have a lot of special moments that I will always remember. Maggie and I visited a special request patient for over six months and it was such a pleasure to get to know her. She posted pictures of Maggie on all of her social media accounts and told us that Friday was her favourite day because it meant that she got to see Maggie. Just the other week I visited a woman in palliative care who was visiting with her son. She immediately chatted away to Maggie during our visit and asked me the usual questions: how old was Maggie, what was her breed, etc. Her son asked if he could record our interaction on his phone and I agreed not thinking much of it. At the end of our visit I learned that the woman hadn’t spoken for weeks.

What do you think is the most important part of about your visits?
I think the most important part of pet visitation in a hospital setting is giving patients an opportunity to physically touch and hug someone that is so unconditionally loving and accepting. I often see the instant relief in their faces after they give Maggie a gentle hug and I think there’s something to be said about that intimate moment between two beings.

What is Maggie’s favourite part about visiting?
I always tell the patients that Maggie’s first love is food and people are a close second. She knows some fun tricks that the patients like asking her to do in exchange for treats and she’ll gladly oblige. Once the treats are doled out she’ll settle into laps and get dopey-eyed during her many massages. I can tell she likes her visits because I have to stop her from running from unit to unit.

KATIE SMILING AT MAGGIE

KATIE SMILING AT MAGGIE

Tell us about Maggie.
Right before I adopted Maggie she had just weaned her litter of 8 puppies. Someone told me that a litter of pups can mellow a dog out and Maggie might be living proof of that. I describe her as “bomb-proof” because she’ll tolerate darn near anything and is so easy-going. She loves people and is shameless in her demands for attention and pets. Maggie likes all things soft, cozy and warm and will do anything for a treat.

What do you and Maggie like to do for fun?
I think Maggie is happiest when she’s running around Crab Park sans leash, greeting other small dogs and rolling in something smelly. It melts my heart to see her so happy.

Katie and Maggie are a wonderful example of Pets and Friends’ pet therapy teams and we hope their journey inspires others to join our program. Please email info@petsandfriends.org for more information.


November 2016: This month’s spotlight volunteer team is Lindsay Bishop and Dexter.

LINDSAY AND DEXTER

LINDSAY AND DEXTER

Dexter and I have been volunteering with Pets and Friends since spring of 2012. We got involved with Pets and Friends through word-of-mouth from someone who had been volunteering with her dog, and I looked up the Pets and Friends website to get more details on how to begin. My favourite part of volunteering is watching Dexter bring joy and comfort to others. During a typical visitation, Dexter and I make our way through each unit and find our usual friends, plus Dexter is also constantly making new friends along the way 😉 My favourite memory of volunteering to date is with a bed-bound gentleman who Dexter and I got to know quite well over many months before he died. Apparently visits with Dexter were the only thing that he ever agreed to. Dexter and I were privileged to connect with him and hear so many of his stories. I think the most important part of our visits is allowing each person to express themselves through their communication and interaction with Dexter. Dexter’s favourite part of visiting is enjoying all the attention from everyone – he is a very social and “pet me, love me!” kind of dog, so he is always very excited about visiting. Dexter is a 7 year old Shih Tzu / Lhasa Apso mix breed, and we have had him since he was a puppy. Dexter also loves road trips, hiking and snowshoeing.

MEET DEXTER

MEET DEXTER

Thank you, Lindsay and Dexter, for your dedication to Pets and Friends’ Pet Visiting Program! If you would like to participate as a Featured Member, please contact Pets and Friends today.


October 2016: Thank you, Judy and Butterfly, for bringing joy and happiness into the lives of others.

Volunteer Facility:
Royal Columbian Hospital

How long have you been volunteering with Pets and Friends?
6 months

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BUTTERFLY & JUDY

How did you get involved with Pets and Friends?
A dear friend’s husband was in Royal Columbian hospital for the last weeks of his life and, with nurses’ permission, I brought Butterfly in a few nights to sit with us. Staff couldn’t believe how calm and nurturing she was and asked if I would consider putting her through the assessment for pet therapy, so we found out that it was Pet and Friends that was one of the hospitals supporters and applied online.

What is your favourite part about volunteering?
Meeting everyone and seeing their faces light up when they see Butterfly. Every [shift] we have nurses and patients calling her name as she comes down the hall!

Describe a typical visitation.
We usually start on the paediatric and maternity wards, then wander through the waiting areas by the Intensive Care Unit and High Acuity Unit to comfort patients’ families. We make our way up to the 6th floor where we entertain the elderly during their exercise class. The nurses on this unit have commented that patients are more energetic and excited Friday mornings because of our visit. Then we make our way down all the floors, checking in where she is needed and allowing the nurses some cuddle time also.

Smiling at the Camera

SMILING AT THE CAMERA

To date, what is your favorite memory of volunteering?
It’s hard to pick one, as she makes me so proud of how she has helped others.

During one shift we visited a young boy who had broken his arm and foot. This visit was extra awesome as he asked for Butterfly to come on to his bed, like he did the week before. He said he wished he could take her picture then remembered he could with his tablet. Butterfly was not looking at the camera, which he commented on, but I explained that she was just showing her good side. He made a video introducing Butterfly and proceeded to turn the camera to himself, explaining why he was in the hospital. After we watched the video he asked me to make a video of the two of them. He said Butterfly likes to lick but could only lick one of his hands as the other one had chocolate on it and would make her sick. It was so cute and the nurses thanked us as our visit brought much happiness to him.

During another amazing visit at RCH, as we were passing one of the waiting areas, a nurse was giving some news to a lady waiting for her husband who we found out later was in surgery and she was very upset, crying. The nurse asked me if Butterfly could come over, which of course we did, and he went to get her more tissues. I knelt down and introduced Butterfly. She was petting Butterfly and I put my hand on her shoulder to comfort her. She thanked me over and over again. I explained that petting Butterfly would ease emotional stress and promote relaxation. She continued petting Butterfly and soon stopped crying, thanking me again and saying she was OK. We went on our way to visit other patients and near the end of our shift coincidentally visited the room her husband had been transferred to. She immediately smiled at me, her husband grabbed my hand and thanked me and her daughter gave me a hug and thanked me. The mom and daughter kneeled down to embrace and pet Butterfly. Every visit I am blessed and proud of my special girl.

What do you think is the most important part of about your visits?
The comfort she gives everyone, including nurses, and the smiles and love she gives and gets back.

Butterfly Taking A Break

BIG YAWN – BUTTERFLY WANTS TO START VISITING!

What is Butterfly’s favourite part about visiting?
She gets so excited when she gets her Pet and Friends bandana on, and then prances through the hospital. She will walk past the waiting areas and pull me to people, patiently standing near them. If they don’t acknowledge her right away she gives them a look, as if to say “Hello, this is my job and you are supposed to pat me”!

Tell us about Butterfly.
Butterfly is a beautiful 14 yr old golden Labrador / Ridgeback. She was born at the SPCA where I found her shortly after my golden retriever passed and was affectionately named Butterfly by a young girl who visited with her and thought she had wings around her shoulders. She has been on Global TV pet tricks for jumping up trees, and used to press the cross walk button for me. She also used to sleep on my BBQ and my friend’s son said it makes her a ‘hot dog’!

What do you and Butterfly like to do for fun?
We love hiking and going on long walks together, and she especially enjoys stopping at our neighbour’s home for treats every time we pass by.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I feel that pet therapy is so rewarding for all involved and wish we hadn’t taken so long to do it, but are hopeful that Butterfly has many more years to comfort people…and continue to amaze me!

Pets and Friends is delighted to have Judy and Butterfly as part of our pet visiting team! If you would like to participate in the monthly Featured Member, please email info@petsandfriends.org today.


September 2016: Read the inspiring story of Annabel and her dog, Rocky.

Volunteer Facility: Burnaby Hospital

How long have you been volunteering with Pets and Friends?
Almost 2 years.

How did you get involved with Pets and Friends?
I have been volunteering at Burnaby Hospital for nearly 10 years and always admired the Pets and Friends program. I wanted to be a part of the program for ages! When I adopted Rocky two years ago, I realized he had the perfect temperament and personality to provide healing to others, so we requested to become part of the program. And the rest is history!

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ANNABEL & ROCKY

What is your favourite part about volunteering?
My favourite part are magical moments we share with families. Often times these memories are created with family members at the bedside, who share laughs and smiles when watching as their loved one cuddles with Rocky. These are memories that last a life time, and these moments are especially meaningful when we visit patients who are terminally ill.

Describe a typical visitation.
Rocky and I walk into a room and introduce ourselves as a Pets and Friends team. We ask if the patient/family members would like a pet visit, and if there are any allergy concerns. If given the green light, we pull up a chair at the bedside and Rocky will hop onto the patients’ bed to cuddle or he will hang out with the family members. Depending on the family and situation, we will typically spend at least 10 minutes with each patient. Some times there is lots of dialogue and other times the patients sit in complete silence as they enjoy Rocky’s presence. I really allow the patient and family to guide the visit.

To date, what is your favourite memory of volunteering?
I remember taking Rocky to the palliative care ward once. He walked into a patient’s room, and the patient was very close to the end of his life. The patient’s daughter and wife were at his bedside. Rocky entered the room and went right up to his bed. He rested his beagle chin on the patient’s bed. We all stood in shock and silence as we watched Rocky stare into this man’s face. It was almost like Rocky knew he was dying. Rocky put one of his paws on the bed, and then rested his chin on the man’s thigh. As soon as Rocky did that, the wife and daughter burst into tears. His wife told me that her husband was never fond of dogs, but dogs were always drawn to him for some reason. We chatted about her husband’s life for some time, as Rocky continued to stare into the patient’s face. After some time, we all fell silent, and Rocky took his head off the bed. The family thanked us for sharing in this special moment and we left. I think the patient passed away shortly after that visit. In these moments, I am always reminded by how much we don’t understand about the world. Animals sense so many things that we humans don’t, and it’s in those special moments shared with an animal that we remember how precious and connected we all are.

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ROCKY SPENDING TIME WITH A PATIENT

What do you think is the most important part of about your visits?

I think the most important part of our visits are the silent moments. The world of health care, especially hospitals, can be so noisy and over-stimulating. Patients are constantly bombarded with visitors and health professionals coming into their rooms and asking about their symptoms, their medications, their sleep patterns etc.. Many times patients don’t say a single word when visiting with Rocky. They just hold and cuddle him. Sitting in silence and enjoying the therapeutic nature of an animal helps patients regain a sense of peace and brings back the feeling of home. A couple weeks ago, we visited a lady who petted Rocky for almost 15 minutes in total silence. Then suddenly, she started crying, and when I asked her what brought her to tears, she said that Rocky reminded her of being at home on a lazy Sunday with her cats.

What is Rocky’s favourite part about visiting?
Treats. More treats. Oh and cuddles.

Tell us about Rocky.
Rocky is almost 3 years old. I adopted him at 9 months of age from the Burnaby SPCA. He’s one of the most handsome beagles you’ll ever meet. His colouring looks like a tuxedo. He has a white chest, caramel coloured face and legs, and his back is black. His paws are white, like little socks. His tail is black with a white tip (a typical beagle trademark). He was abandoned at 9 months and as a result, was a very anxious pup and struggled with separation anxiety. After much training and unconditional love, he has become a sensitive and caring therapy dog and is perceptive to people’s feelings. He is very intelligent and can even get my dad a pair of socks on demand. He loves running around with his doggy friends at the dog park. He also loves cats, but unfortunately cats don’t love him back. Rocky is known to be the loudest dog in my neighborhood, as his beagle howl can be heard blocks away (he is a social chatterbox). And he has the softest long droopy ears ever.

What do you and Rocky like to do for fun?
Rocky and I enjoy long walks on the beach. We can often be found hanging out at David Gray dog park and MacDonald Beach dog park. We also love hiking.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you!