Troupe Member of the Month - Melinda Wolfe and Flint
Melinda became a member of the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe in the summer of 2020, but she started in back in 2019 with therapy visits on her own to the Warrenville Cancer Center and several local elementary schools. Her canine partner is Flint, a tricolor Rough Collie. Melinda and Flint have been volunteers at a variety of facilities that the Troupe visits. They work with students in “Read With Me” programs at Brookdale Elementary School in Naperville, at Compass Kindergarten in Naperville, and at Granger Middle School in Aurora. They are looking forward to their first visit at Mooseheart Academy in Batavia in May. Melinda says that Flint especially loves visiting with the seniors at Community Adult Daycare in Downers Grove.
Here is what Melinda has to say about “Flint” and their PAWSItive Therapy Troupe experiences:
Flint is your typical sensitive collie, but with a dose of calm confidence to go with it! Flint had early agility training, but he quickly let me know he was more interested in visiting with the trainer and other handlers than running the obstacle course. I followed Flint down a different path and he found his calling. He loves meeting new people and exploring new places. He is a gentle, patient boy, and given the chance, will sidle up to people and rub on them just like a cat, quietly welcoming any return rubs. With every visit we make, I learn something new about me and Flint as a team. We look forward to new visiting experiences and sharing our time with others.
On behalf of all of us in the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe, thank YOU Melinda and Flint for your devoted service in these past two challenging years.
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.