Troupe Members of the Month - Mary Beth Turek and Maggie
Mary Beth has been a member of the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe since 2003. She has logged hundreds of hours over the past 13 years as a dedicated volunteer with her Golden Retrievers. Mary Beth’s current Pet Partner is 9-year-old Maggie. They are dedicated volunteers at local elementary schools and libraries in the Pet Partners “Read With Me” programs as well as at Oak Trace Senior Living Community in Downers Grove. Mary Beth’s previous therapy partners include Riley, Timmy and Jesse James. All three were outgoing, vibrant dogs who brought unconditional love to many people in need. They also taught her countless lessons! Here is what Mary Beth has to say about her PAWSItive Therapy Troupe experiences:
"Maggie has a very sweet and gentle nature. People are drawn to her and feel comfortable with her. The reading specialist at our school visit works hard on reminding the children to make eye contact and say thank you to the volunteers. This month, a little boy who was charmed by Maggie returned to us after finishing his book, but instead of speaking to me, he bent down to get to Maggie’s level, gazed into her eyes and said “Merry Christmas, Maggie! Thank you for letting me read to you!” My heart melted. At nursing home visits, the old ladies take Maggie’s face in their hands and say “Grandma loves you!”
On behalf of all of us in the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe, thank you Mary Beth for so many years of devoted service!
The PAWSitive Therapy Troupe is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to sharing registered therapy dogs with individuals in a wide variety of health care and educational settings--bringing comfort, support and encouragement through the unique healing power of the human-animal bond.
What is the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe?
The PAWSitive Therapy Troupe is an Animal-Assisted Activities and Therapy program designed to share registered therapy dogs with patients and students in a variety of health care and educational settings.
Is there a Difference Between a Therapy Dog and a Service Dog?
Yes! Therapy dogs are NOT “service”, or “assistance” dogs. Service dogs include guide dogs for the blind; hearing dogs that alert their owners to sounds; mobility assistance dogs, which may pull a wheelchair or directly support a person; seizure alert dogs; and others like them. Service dogs are covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act. People with disabilities can BY LAW, take their service dogs with them wherever they go, including planes, restaurants, sporting events, etc.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that therapy dogs and their handlers have the same rights of access as people with disabilities and their service animals. Therapy dogs are NOT service dogs. They are NOT allowed to accompany their handlers wherever they go. Therapy dogs are invited into hospitals, nursing homes or schools to work with patients or students on very specific tasks, or simply to bring their unconditional love to the many people who need them in these facilities. Therapy dogs and their handlers have no more rights of access than anyone with a companion animal or pet.
Therapy dogs are always first and foremost beloved family pets. You cannot “buy” a ready made therapy dog. Therapy dogs and their owners, because of their interest in therapy work have undergone additional rigorous training to prepare them to function reliably in health care or educational settings. Therapy dogs live at home with their families when they are not working.
What are Animal-Assisted Activities / Therapy?
Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA) share registered therapy dogs with patients or students in a variety of activities such as individual bedside visits, entertaining demonstrations or educational sessions. Animal- Assisted Activities are not necessarily goal-directed, but they are nonetheless certainly therapeutic in nature.
Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is goal-directed intervention in which a therapy dog is an integral part of the clinical treatment process. It is directed by a licensed health care or education professional with specialized expertise and within the scope of his or her profession. AAT is designed to promote improvement in physical, social, emotional and / or cognitive functioning / reading skills. This process is documented in the health care record by the health care professional or in the education plan by the education professional.