Troupe Member of the Month - Margo Sorrick and Ripley & Liberty
Margo has been a dedicated member of the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe since 2009. Her Pet Partners have been Ripley and Liberty, both Bernese Mountain Dogs. She has a future therapy dog in training named Banjo, also a Bernese Mountain Dog. Margo and Riley began their career visiting with children at Mooseheart Child City and School. Ripley, and then Liberty, also enjoyed listening to children at multiple elementary school “Read With Me” programs. They were popular visitors on the Pediatric unit at Loyola University Medical Center, and the Stritch School of Medicine on the Loyola campus. With her extensive background in education, Margo’s perspective on the Troupe’s many school programs has been invaluable. Here is what Margo has to say about her PAWSItive Therapy Troupe experiences:
“Ripley had many gifts and she shared her gifts through her therapy work. She did not know a lot of tricks, but she did not need to – she was a big, majestic girl who smiled all the time and brought a smile to everyone she met. “Look at the size of those paws.” was a common comment as was “Does she have two different colored eyes?” Eventually, within minutes, the size of her paws and the color of her eyes were not as important as her ability to cuddle and make a person feel very important by sitting on their feet and looking up at them. We lost our beloved Ripley in June of 2016. We miss her every day.
Liberty has THE personality. She is always smiling and looking for the party. She absolutely loves everyone and everything. She is the happiest living being I have ever known. As a therapy dog, she had many tricks which enhanced her ability to entertain on our visits. Her most famous trick was sneezing on command – all you had to do was ask her “Do you have a cold?” One of our favorite experiences was her solo dance in the Nutcracker. We had such a good time training together and she was fabulous! Such a great memory of good times with Liberty. Unfortunately, due to nerve damage in her neck we had to retire Liberty from therapy work. However, she continues to grace our home with her fun loving, quirky personality.
It took us almost a year to get another dog after losing Ripley, but after retiring Liberty we knew we wanted another dog to train for therapy work. Banjo, a two-year old Bernese Mountain Dog, joined our family in May of 2017 and is the best boy. He is quiet, gentle, VERY obedient and my shadow. He is a shy guy so we are working with him to make him comfortable in all kinds of settings. We love him to pieces and hope, that with time, we will be able to share him and his wonderful personality through therapy work.”
On behalf of all of us in the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe, thank YOU Margo 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.
PAWSitive Therapy team Amy and Buster on CBS News (February 16, 2018)
PAWSitive Therapy Troupe Featured on PBS's "In the Loop" (May 25, 2017)
Loyola Celebrates 20 Years of Pet Therapy
For 20 years, the PAWsitive Therapy Troupe has been visiting patients, families and colleagues at Loyola Medicine. These canine caregivers bring 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.
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.
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.