The hardest thing we face when living and working with dogs is losing them. They never, ever live long enough. Three weeks ago my Julia died, very suddenly and without warning. I had been thinking of starting a blog for quite some time to write about my therapy dogs and the meaningful visits we make together. Julia’s passing has prompted me to get started (12/2010).
I have been visiting healthcare facilities with therapy dogs since 1992. Five of my dogs have been therapy dogs. Initially, I was a member of Therapy Dogs International, then went on to become the volunteer coordinator of the MSPCA Pet Visitation Program. In 2004, I founded Bright Spot Therapy Dogs, Inc. and have evaluated hundreds of dogs to be therapy dogs.
I enjoy teaching workshops and training classes to dog owners interested in learning the skills and techniques needed to visit with their dogs in hospitals, mental health facilities, nursing homes, hospice programs, children’s educational programs, and anywhere else therapy dogs can be of help. In addition, I am a frequent speaker for civic organizations interested in learning about the work of therapy dogs and was the keynote speaker for the MSPCA’s Happy Endings charitable event in 2001. Also in 2001, I received the MSPCA Gus Thornton Award for helping seniors in the community through visits with my therapy dogs. In the fall of 2010, I was overjoyed to be the recipient of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors Good Neighbor Award for my work in the community with therapy dogs. Currently, I am president of Bright Spot Therapy Dogs, Inc. and write articles for the English Setter Association of America magazine, FidoLoves, The Bright Spot News and am working on a book about my twenty-year experience working with therapy dogs.
When I write about the visits I make with my dogs, I never mention the name of a specific facility nor do I use the real name of a patient. To protect the privacy of patients, any name used is fictitious. Additionally, any photo containing a person or dog, other than my own, has had a release form signed.