Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hectic Holiday Season

By Paul Westerfield

December 2: Therapy, Safe Harbor
December 5: Christmas Parade, Williamsburg
December 6: Therapy, Westminster Canterbury
December 6: Training
December 8: Therapy, Safe Harbor
December 10: Therapy, Pediatrics, St. Mary’s Hospital
December 12: Christmas tree pull, Gettysburg, PA
December 13: Training
December 15: Therapy & deliver gifts via cart, Covenant Woods
December 19: Therapy & deliver gifts via cart, St. Mary’s Hospital
December 20: Therapy, Westminster Canterbury
December 20: Christmas Party, St. Mary’s Hospital
December 22: Therapy, Safe Harbor

This doesn’t include having to bake, clean, buy gifts or decorate for the Christmas season because this is the work schedule of a dog. Nana is a three-year-old Newfoundland and a registered therapy dog. Her sister Gina is also a newly registered therapy dog and has her own schedule. There are three more siblings all working toward becoming therapy dogs.

Newfoundland dogs are frequently called gentle giants and make excellent therapy dogs. The AKC website states “Sweetness of temperament is the hallmark of the Newfoundland. This is the most important single characteristic of the breed.” Be it octogenarians in a nursing home or children in a pediatric ward, petting - or in many cases hugging - a Newf can bring a smile to a face.

St. Mary’s Hospital is the newest addition to Nana’s busy schedule. She will be visiting sick children and their families on the pediatric unit and in pediatric ICU. The hospital staff is very excited, especially with Nana’s ability to cart. She will be available to transport children (who are physically able) in her wagon. I can’t think of a better way to take a child’s mind off of an upcoming test or procedure. She will also be delivering toys and books to children’s rooms. Hospital staff has already started coming up with other areas and people to visit.

Gina will be joining Nana in a few weeks at St. Mary’s. The hospital would ideally like two visits from a registered therapy dog per week. Unfortunately Nana’s and Gina’s chauffeurs cannot make that time commitment in addition to other visits. Anyone interested please contact Dee Bogetti to find out how to get more information on St. Mary’s.

Note: Paul is one of the most dedicated volunteers I know. He and his Newfoundlands make an enormous difference in the lives of people they meet. Thanks to the Westerfield family for all they do! Dee

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