In Memoriam - Susan Avers
The PAWSitive Therapy Troupe deeply mourns the passing of our very special volunteer, Susan Avers. Susan lost her courageous battle with ovarian cancer on April 24th. She and her Papillons Sadie and Abbie had been Troupe members since 2004. Susan's father, a veteran, had been killed by a drunk driver the year before, and she felt a special calling to work with the veterans at Hines VA in Spinal Cord Injury, Blind Rehabilitation and Extended Care. She and her dogs exemplified the compassion and empathy that are so essential for therapy work. Sadie and Abbie brought smiles and comfort wherever they went at Hines.
Susan was an outstanding role model for how to put her dogs' welfare first at all times. Susan and Sadie were stars in our 2010 Nutcracker, and they were awesome as they danced multiple roles. Susan decided to be a walk-on "guest" only at the 2012 Nutcracker because she felt that Sadie was getting older and might be stressed dancing in front of the crowds. Those of you in the 2012 Nutcracker will remember Susan carrying Sadie on stage with her stylish hat!
Susan loved running her dogs in agility competitions. She lived for the special "high" that all of us agility competitors feel when we have the perfect run, and it almost seems like we are one with our dog. But there are lots (most) of times where we don't have that perfect run. and that was where Susan really was a shining example. She knew that the most important thing in the competition was to have FUN with your dog. She truly was an inspiration for many, many of her fellow competitors. Her sunny smile and positive attitude are going to be great missed by all of us in the agility community.
Please keep Susan's family in your prayers as they mourn her death and celebrate her life.
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.