Troupe Member of the Month - Jenny Austgen and Kuma-chan
Jenny has been a dedicated member of the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe since 2012. Her registered Pet Partner therapy dog is Kuma-chan, a 9-year-old Pug. Jenny and Kuma-chan have volunteered at many different locations over the past six years. They are regular “Read With Me” volunteers at Hodgkins Elementary School in Hodgkins IL. They help Downers Grove North High School students cope with final exam stress and have brought joy to hospitalized children at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. Jenny and Kuma also enjoy visiting with students at Wheaton College and Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola.
Here is what Jenny has to say about her PAWSItive Therapy Troupe experiences:
"Kuma - chan and I began our journey to become a Pawsitive Therapy team back in 2012. She had just graduated from an obedience class and through the influence of Donna Angeleri, our trainer at PetSmart, we began the process of becoming a registered Pet Partner team with the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe. Kuma - chan started visits at Hodgkins, which she continues to this date. I was known as the “sub with the pug”, because I was also a substitute teacher at Hodgkins at the time. We have enjoyed various visits over the years. Some have been at Loyola hospital in the pediatric unit as well as the Stritch School of Medicine. I moved to Downers Grove last year to be closer to College of DuPage, because that is where I teach now. Recently we have picked up some visits at Downers Grove High School and Wheaton College, as well as some elementary schools out this way. Kuma is starting to slow down this year, but she always looks forward to her visits and lives to bring a smile to others. It has been a joy to be a part of the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe over the past 6 years."
On behalf of all of us in the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe, thank YOU Jenny 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.
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.