An Unusual Experience
By: Barbara Tanner
Spirit is my 2 year old rescued German Shepherd. I consider her my gift from heaven. I already had 3 other Shepherds who are registered therapy dogs so I certainly didn’t need another one! But there was something about this little girl that was tugging at my heart…..so she became a part of our family and I named her Spirit.
We were on a visit to a high security mentally handicapped facility where we share our time between 2 separate buildings: the young women and the young men.
We had just finished our visit with the girls and a staff member allowed a few of the girls to walk with Spirit and me up to the gate of the young men building. It was while we were walking that one of the girls began running into the woods that surrounded the parking lot. One of the security staff began chasing her to bring her back to safety.
While this was happening another one of the girls suddenly threw off her jacket and started screaming and yelling and also headed into the woods.
Another staff member was able to reach her and bring her back still kicking, screaming and yelling; but as soon as she saw Spirit she became completely calm and asked to please pet Spirit. They were hesitant to let her do that but since Spirit obviously had such a calming effect on her they allowed her to pet Spirit for a brief time.
Not all dogs or people would be comfortable in this situation or around environments that can suddenly become chaotic and unexpected at times.
But Spirit seems to love everyone despite their personal handicaps or problems.
By: Anne Woodward
On Sept. 11, Dae and I were at Oakland Elementary, Boiling Springs working with Ingrid Norris, Spartanburg Humane Society. We did five presentations on how dogs are cared for when they arrive at the shelter. The kids love it, as they feed Dae, give her water, brush her, place a blanket for her to rest on down on the floor, check her temperature, heart, lungs, ears, eyes and nose, pretend to give her medications plus take her for a walk in the classroom. With one student we were walking across the classroom, turned around and Dae sat down in front of me. I encouraged the student to tell Dae lets go and Dae proceeded to walk backwards across the room. I could not resist asking if she always walked her dog backwards? This, of course, gave all the kids, second graders, a good laugh as well as the teacher. Dae adores children and thrives on the hugs and kisses during our visits.
We began our visits October, 2012 and by May, 2013 we had made over 60 visits to classrooms, career days, 4-H Meetings, a birthday party whereby gifts were for the Spartanburg Humane Society, McCarthy-Teszler School, and Dillon Pointe Assisted Living and Memory Care. On June 20, 2013, Dae was awarded her AKC Therapy Dog Title—she is AKC registered as an All-American Dog. We are now attending a Beginner Novice Training Class with Palmetto Obedience Dog Club. Maybe some day we’ll be good enough to compete! All this from a dog on the verge of being euthanized but saved by being chosen for the obedience training program at the NC Prison in Spindale.
I cherish my hours with Dae as we make our visits and delight in the happiness she brings to all who meet her. We owe so much to paws2care for accepting us.
Today I saw the face of God
By: Shirley Littlefield
Today I saw the face of God, I truly did. The little girl could not have been more than four or five years old with the most precious smile and a mass of beautiful brown curls that framed her head like a HALO. She looked so small in that hospital bed, my Borzoi girl named “Pink” who is a therapy dog, gently placed her head under the little girl’s neck caressing and loving her with total abandonment.
The tiny girl wrapped her arms around “Pink’s” neck hugging her tightly. She then closed her eyes and “Pink” closed her eyes and they embraced each other for a minute or two.
No questions, no explanations, no excuses, simply pure love and respect for each other.
Is this not how our Father loves us?
Today I saw the face of God.
Today I Kissed Away His Tears
By: Pink Littlefield, The Therapy Dog
Just a little fellow, just a young boy. He had been through some type of surgery and was indeed in pain. His smile peeked through his pain but the tears welled up in his eyes, as I nuzzled him and tried to give him love and comfort. The tears came back again and I had no choice nor did I want a choice but to kiss them away with my tongue. He smiled a slight smile and fell back to sleep. I hope, dear God, that in some little way I have done my job, for indeed I am a therapy dog, but I must question for whom the therapy was. I am thankful for this blessed opportunity to give the love that you asked us to share with each other.
THE DOGS ARE OUT – WOOF!
The dogs are out and about at McCarthy/Teszler Special Education School, Spartanburg, SC. These photos, posted on a hall wall as our record of fame, are just a few of the six visits made by Spartanburg Paws2Care, a member of Therapy Dogs, Inc.
McCarthy/Teszler serves the most significantly disabled students in Spartanburg County— these kids love dogs and our dogs: Callie, Coco, Angus, Boogie, Bristol, Diva, Dae, Millie, Fresca and Jager were a huge success. The kids, petted, hugged, walked, fed treats, pulled ears, yanked hair and giggled with joy when a tail swept across their face or a sloppy kiss caught them by surprise. Many had to reach from their chairs needing help controlling their hand as they stroked the dogs. If there was a yank on an ear or fist full of hair pulled, the dogs did not flinch. Just what makes these dogs know their new friends are so special will remain their secret. We’re all thankful for their good nature and the joy we all feel at the end of a visit. We admire the teachers and aides for all they do as they are truly very special people.
We all feel richer for making these visits. We’ve shed tears, gained smiles, lifted spirits and feel a renewed reverence for our magnificent pets – therapy dogs!
By: Barbara Tanner;
We have so many wonderful stories to tell you about the smiles that Therapy Dogs brings to people that I decided to do snippets about our stories. (Snippets are pieces of stories)
Snippet #1 The elevator at St Francis Hospital is crowded with 1 German Shepherd named Farrah and 3 Labradoodles named Fudge, Lexie and Riley. Reaching the third floor, the doors open and standing before them were several small wide eyed children shouting “Mama look at all the dogs!”. It was totally unexpected to see 5 dogs exiting the elevator. And every one of our dogs received lots of hugs as well as gave many wet kisses! So you never know what you will encounter on a pet therapy visit.
Snippet #2 On one of our visits to Oakmont Nursing Home we entered a room to find an elderly woman who seemed to be unaware of our presence but we still spent time talking and doing some obedience tricks. When we left the room and walked down the hall a woman approached; thanked us and said that visit meant more to her mom than we would ever know! Just when you think a person doesn’t know you’re there you find out it made a huge difference!
Snippet #3 I was having some work done at my house when one of the workers told me he had a son that had been at Shriner’s Hospital a couple of months ago and there was a German Shepherd named Farrah that had visited his 6 year old son. He told me his son asks every day if he can go back to the hospital to see Farrah! Of course I told him Farrah was my dog and his son could come visit us anytime! It’s a small world!
Snippet #4 A 15 year old girl named Sara had become close to me and Farrah when she learned her grandmother, who helped raise her, passed away. We made regular visits to this facility and when a group home became available for Sara she had tears running down her cheeks; she would miss the sense of calmness that Farrah brought to her on those visits. It’s ironic that Farrah who is so laid back and calm can have such an impact on a person’s life!
Gentle Gracie “June Bug”
By Charmaine Turney;
Gracie loves the many visits she goes and it is so rewarding to see the smiles she puts on everyone faces and she always seems to know when someone needs a little extra attention.
On one of our visits we came across a small group of people standing outside a room, after learning they had just lost a family member I started to walk away because I did not think they would be interested in having us around. That’s when Gracie gently nudged the hand of the man who had just lost his sister and through all his grieving he seemed to find solace from just petting my Golden. He began telling us about his sister, her life and when it was time to leave he managed a smile and thanked us for coming by to visit.
As we walked away it was all I could do to hold back the tears but this is what is all about.
By Dawn Moss;
One of my most memorable visits is when I visited a patient whose dog was named Tater also. She sat with Tater the whole visit and just talked and talked to him. Well, when I returned in a couple of weeks, the patient remembered our group coming and wanted to know where Tater was. Even if you only touch one person on a visit it makes it all worth it. I left there with a very full heart and a much loved dog.
Blessings of Therapy Dogs
Myself and Gidgit are new into the world of Therapy Dog, I have seen the Blessing it is to me taking Gidgit (Peggy-Sue) to Carolina Center. This week when a Therapy dog came and visited my Mom at St.Francis it brought tears to my eyes. Im so thankful to all of you wonderful Ladies and your four legged babies that came to share a a little “Puppy Sugar” and a lot of “Love” with my Mom.
She has mentioned it to several people that the dogs came to see her. I now see how it isn’t just the time spent there in the Hospitals but all the memories it creates for the patient later on!
I cant thank everyone enough for your time you spent in here !!!!!
Gidgit (Peggy-Sue) and Leah
McCall’s Hospice Visit
I wanted to share a story about Buddy and our visit to the McCall’s hospice home on Friday. Before Buddy and I begin visiting patients, I always check with the nurses as to what patients are actively dying and therefore inappropriate for us to visit. As Buddy and I were leaving a patients room, a gentleman standing in the doorway of the room next door, commented on Buddy and invited us in for a visit. Knowing that the patient in that room was actively dying, I made the decision to accept the invitation because many family members benefit from pet therapy as well. Buddy and I greeted all that were in the room, answered questions about Buddy and expressed to them how pet therapy was a rewarding way to volunteer. The gentleman that invited us in, asked if Buddy could do any tricks. I told him that Buddy knew the standard commands of release, sit, stay, shake and down. After Buddy performed the basic routine, the man looked at me and said, “I know what my next sermon is going to be on and that is on Buddy.” I was looking confused, so he explained that the entire time I was putting Buddy through the commands to perform, he noticed that Buddy never took his eyes off his master. He said in this world today, the focus on God is failing and Buddy’s fixed attention on me gave him the inspiration to preach a sermon on how we need to refocus our attention on God, our Master. I walked out of McCall’s that afternoon with a warm feeling and realizing that just one little act, most of which we are not aware of, can make a difference.
Debra and Buddy
Paw to Paw
By Noel Thurner;
There she was, propped up in the middle of that huge, white sheeted
hospital bed. This 2 year old Asian girl was absolutely darling,
amazingly calm. She was surrounded by stuffed animals, toys and a
coloring book along with an open box of crayons. It was the latter upon
which she was focused.
It was a typical Tuesday evening at the Shriners Hospital for Children
and the pet therapy Paws2Care teams were at work. We had
completed our time in the common room with lots of patients and
their families milling about, all enjoying the dogs and what various
entertainment each had to offer. In such an environment, distractions
from the realities these children and their families are experiencing
are welcomed. The children in this hospital are there for orthopedic
surgeries, many which result in the loss of one or several limbs. The air
can be thick with tension, fear and fatigue.
Parker, my brown Bearded Collie, is considered one of the more
calming dogs in our group. His demeanor supports taking a deep
breath and enjoying a nice moment of stroking a dog with long, silky
hair. He does not do tricks, not in this work, and prefers to use his
calming presence as his gift to those who interact with him. On this
evening the visiting in the common room was coming to an end and
time to visit the patients in their rooms… patients too sick or just
recovering from surgery so could not leave their beds for a visit in the
well appointed common area. A handful of us are invited down the hall
to the waiting patients… the really hard work begins.
Parker understands that going into these rooms is serious. The families
are on the verge of exhaustion as they watch their loved one
recover from what is usually a very serious surgery. This room was no
exception. We calmly waited our turn in the hallway. It is this time that
the staff gets their “pet therapy”. They recognize the regular dogs and
even know them by name. These dedicated folks appreciate the break
in their stressful work shift, appreciative of what the dogs offer to all. A
Golden leaves the room and now it is our turn to enter.
There she was, this adorable 2 year old Asian girl, awake and alert.
Obviously not too impressed by the previous dogs: a Lab, a Great
Dane, and a Golden. But she did a double take when Parker slipped
into the room. We will never know what it was about him that got her
attention. Her adoptive Caucasian mother was standing by the side of
the bed, strained by the events of the day yet relieved to have some
relief from it all. She had obviously enjoyed the previous dogs and was
encouraging her daughter to feel the same.
As always, I did a quick assessment for any equipment or medical
paraphernalia that needed to be considered so as not to do harm.
Then I smiled at the mother, who was relieved that another dog was
coming for a visit. Then I made eye contact with the almond eyes of
the patient. Stoic. I asked if she would like to say hello to Parker. Her
eyes responded with a slight affirmative.
On the side of the hospital bed Parker did a “chair up” which means
he places his front feet on the side of the bed and stands on his rear
feet. This position is not comfortable for him for long periods of time
but he knows that when a small child is confined to a hospital bed,
that is what he has to do. That is when I noticed why this little girl was
here. Her right arm was freshly bandaged, the recipient of the day’s
surgery, shorter than a normal arm so that meant there was no hand.
The left arm came forward to collect her coloring book and crayons,
just in case Parker was intent on taking them. The staff and mother
laughed… it was OK… Parker was not here to take the coloring book.
Parker smiled as well. A sigh of relief in the almond eyes. There was
no hand on the left arm either… just a paw with a surgically crafted
The girl was face to face with Parker, her eyes studying intently this
hairiest of all her visitors. Parker does indeed have a goofy smile. The
patient smiles as well. Everyone in the room smiles… some relief.
The mother encourages her daughter to stroke the fluffy paws on her
bed. The little girl gives these big fluffy feet a long look of interest and
then places her paw on his… a quick touch. Then the next touch is a
few seconds longer. Before you know it she is beaming, stroking and it
is indeed paw to paw. Lots of smiles.
She then pulled her coloring book in front of Parker. She pulled the
open box of crayons toward herself and gave the colors an intense
study. Then she studied Parker. She selected a brown crayon, an
appropriate choice since Parker is indeed brown. With her small digit
on the paw of her left arm she lifted the crayon from the box and put it
in front of Parker. Then she pointed to a flower in her coloring book as
to indicate he was to color it. Well, Parker can do a lot of useful tasks
but this was his first venture into art. So I took the crayon, held it under
his paw and we proceeded to color … his fluffy white foot with a brown
crayon coloring a flower. The patient was satisfied so Parker had best
do another one. This time the color she selected was orange. So we
repeated the process. Mother stood motionless with tears streaming
down her face, trickling around her smile. Staff was breathless. Patient
was enjoying teaching this shaggy dog to color.
The mother realized that this was asking a lot of Parker to stand in this
position so she gently asked her daughter to select one more color for
Parker to color and then he had to go. This time the patient selected
a happy blue, again indicating which flower Parker was to color. This
time she placed her paw atop his as the three of us colored that flower
a happy blue. That brought a look of contentment on the little girl’s
face. Parker had been an excellent student of her art lesson. We
retreated knowing that we all had learned something that evening.
As I look back on that experience I wonder how Parker managed
that “chair up” position for so long. How he managed to connect with
this little girl who was recovering from surgery yet did not have much
connection with the previous dogs. Is it Beardie magic? It is certainly
the magic of Shriners… and the magic of doing pet therapy with
Compliment Of A Life Time
By Beth Williams;
My name is Jager (pronounced Yager), an extremely laid-back, friendly and loyal Siberian Husky to my owner, Beth. I’m pretty new to the program but go on as many visits as I can because loving is my favorite thing to do.
I’m not trying to brag but I have to say that I usually get noticed because of my ice blue eyes and striking black and white thick fur but while on a recent visit I wasn’t expecting this kind of compliment.
My pet therapy team entered a unit where I saw a quite elderly woman who wasn’t really paying much attention to any of team. I walked over to her to asked if we could exchange some joy and smiles when she began to compliment my good looks. Within minutes she began to sing Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful to Me” Lyrics and continued to sing the entire song, while I sat listening to her quite voice I could see how happy she was and that made me very happy.
Shortly after we had to leave her unit so I thanked her for singing so beautifully to me and making me feel so loved, I just hope I made her feel the same way. Her singing was the compliment of a lifetime for me.
I love going on my visits and love my pet therapy work, I am just not sure who gets more out of these visits, the patients or me!
By Trish Locklair;
River is a white boxer who was 18 hours from being euthanized. River was deaf and no one wanted a deaf dog,but a boxer rescue group saved him.
He came into my life shortly after my father lost his fight with cancer. River filled the emptiness for me and I for him. River was exceptionally, anxious, what our vet called separation anxiety.
He was truly a smart dog for he began learning sign language and to this day he has learned 14. Our work began for we were asked to speak at a school in Anderson county. We told Rivers story attempting to show that even if he had a disability,he was very special. We showed them how we communicated through sign language. The children were very excited to see River responding to them. That day I told River that there had to be something out there for us. We both wanted to pay it forward to someone else.
That night I got on the internet looking for Paws for a Cause and somehow ended on Paws 2 Care’s website. I knew then that God had answered our prayers. We love every minute of the visits and now my husband has come on board and we are paying it forward, bringing smiles to people. Who could ask for anything more.
Typed for Farrah by Barbara Tanner;
My name is Farrah, a loyal German Shepherd to my owner, Barbara. I would like to tell you a story about one of my heros that I met on a recent visit.
It was a windy day in January and several of my four legged friends and I had arrived at our pet therapy visit. We walked into the room with several patients sitting around. I went over in the corner and laid down. (my usual position on this visit)
A young man who had been in the military came over; sat down beside me and said he was at the facility for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. He laid his palm on my side and told me stories about all his friends and their K-9’s that had given their lives defending freedom.
I could see the sadness in his eyes as he continued to talk about his buddies and the friendships they shared. I wanted to stay with him for the rest of the evening but it was getting close to the time for me to say goodbye.
He thanked me for listening and in some small way I hope I had eased some of his pain that evening. This young man is truly a hero!
There are many, many stories that I could tell about you about how much Paws 2 Care has enabled me and my owner to bring happiness and joy to so many people, and how a smile, a paw shake and sometimes a wet kiss will brighten up the face of even the saddest person!
Thank you so much for reading my story!
Thank You from Providence Care
I spoke with a visitor who was in the Sterling House last night at the same time you were there with your best friends.
She said she is in many facilities with her work but she had never seen
such a pleasant exchange as with you and the patients & residents at Sterling House.
She felt like the residents were engaged and participating and everyone seemed happy and lively. She loved the positive and upbeat atmosphere and wished it was the same for all facilities she visited.
I just wanted to thank each of you for making that possible. It is much to ask you to track out after a long day at work or home with the family. Yet you each did, and with you , you bought enough 2 and 4 legged love to spread to all.
I am especially thankful that our patients were there last night and able to participate. As a dear lady and PC patient, approaches death today, I am comforted by the love and joy you shared with her. It is heartening to know she was not alone last night and in the company of people who care.
Thank you, again, for making that possible. I hope you and your pups had fun and will volunteer again with our Providence Care family!
Best to all,
Volunteer Outreach Coordinator
By Noel Thurner;
Parker and I always have a hospice patient that we stay with until the end…
here is a story I wrote about my now 96 year old we visit each week in a facility in Pickens…
All she wanted was a tomato sandwich. Her food was now pureed, liquids thickened. She wondered how one could sustain oneself on that? The least I could do for this soon-to-be 96 year old hospice patient was to satisfy that desire for a tomato sandwich.
So on our next pet therapy visit, Parker my Bearded Collie, and I brought her a sack of home grown tomatoes. A dear friend had given me seeds for an heirloom variety called Moonglow. These are a low acid type of tomato so easy on the stomach. I was not allowed to give her un-prescribed food, nor was the staff at the facility, but family members could. So one of them could make that desired tomato sandwich, complemented with a thick slice of sweet onion and just a touch of mayonnaise. This was the request.
It was a Sunday so I was wearing what for me is considered “a fancy Sunday outfit” and Parker was just his usual, groomed and handsome self. As typical, the facility was in a state of organized chaos, but we dodged the mayhem and entered her quiet room. She of course smiled as she noted Parker swishing in, plopping down right around her feet at the base of her wheel chair. That little paper sack of Moonglow ‘maters was next to be noted. I explained the contents, pulled out one of the smooth, golden orbs, all the while Parker nestled around her solid yet stroke-damaged feet. One could see she was elated that soon there would be something tasteful in her weary life.
We discussed that when her daughter came that afternoon that everything would be in order and soon that sandwich would be her reality. Ah, relief. But then she looked at me solidly. I could tell she had something to say. She was trying to get her words correct as she was still very articulate. Eyeing my outfit up and down, she then nicely asked: Does Parker mind you wearing those kind of clothes?
I smiled and said to her he was pretty tolerant of anything I wear. To myself, I said Parker is unbelievably tolerant of a lot. That is the beauty of this pet therapy dog.
Now back to that tomato sandwich: remember, please, just a touch of mayonnaise.
By Diahann Garner;
Doc was an abandoned throw away pup who ended up in a shelter and was a day away from being euthanized because nobody gave him a second glance. He was only a year old. I was volunteering at the shelter at the time walking the dogs and something in him called to my heart. I would never have imagined that this would be my dog. But he chose me. And I am so glad he did. I knew almost immediately that this rescue dog had the potential to be a therapy dog. None of my other dogs were suited for it, as they too were rescues, but dealing with previous abuse and neglect issues that did not make them exactly the right candidates for the job. But Doc is just perfect for it. He was born to make people happy and laugh with his giant pumpkin head and silly grin. In thinking about how Doc and I could best serve the community as a therapy team, I had the opportunity to drive by Boys Home of the South one day. Something just clicked in my mind. It was a match made in Heaven!
Doc still has his “puppiness” about him. He is very enthusiastic and goofy and LOVES LOVES LOVES kids. He really enjoys visiting the boys at the Boys Home and they always look forward to our visits. The kids and I discuss all kinds of dog things – from training issues to feeding and caring for dogs. We also talk about life in general, and about how everyone is feeling. Doc really helps them to open up. I use Doc to teach them about the stereotypes and stigmas the Pit Bull breed has to overcome due to ignorance and misconceptions. We also do nose work with Doc in the gymnasium. It is fun for the boys, but most fun for Doc! He loves finding the treats. So many of the boys have pets of their own and they miss them so much while they are living at the BHOTS. Doc is kind of a substitute pet for them. As one little guy proudly proclaimed on one of our visits, “Doc is really OUR dog !”
Yes, yes he is.