Today’s therapy exercise: Pet a dog
Jean Moubary, a resident of the Louisa Health and Rehabilitation Center, pets Tahchee who is named for a Cherokee Indian chief. Moubary has three dogs at home, but they are all outside dogs so are unable to come and visit her at the center.
The concept for Green Dogs Unleashed, a dog rescue program that trains therapy dogs, began when Erika Proctor’s Great Dane, Serendipity, forged a unique bond with a friend’s autistic child. Serendipity got the child to talk where others had failed.
The child had special needs, but then so did Serendipity, who was thrown out of a truck in front of Proctor’s home.
“I knew there was something very special about her,” Proctor said finding out that Serendipity was deaf and blind. Many other dogs followed as Green Dogs Unleashed focused their rescue efforts on deaf, blind and other differently-abled dogs.
In addition to rescue, rehabilitation and placement of special needs dogs, Green Dogs Unleashed trains dogs to be therapy dogs. Therapy dogs provide comfort and companionship to people in schools, senior centers, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and other locations. Although many Green Dogs have special needs, most therapy dogs are not according to Proctor,
Green Dogs Unleashed participates in Tales for Tails, a program where therapy dogs visit schools to assist a child who is struggling with reading.
“It works real well for children who are uncomfortable reading in front of their peers,” Proctor said. “Therapy dogs don’t judge.”
Neither Louisa County Public Schools nor the Louisa County Public Library have requested visits from Green Dogs Unleashed, however, Proctor would assign her therapy dogs if requested.
“I’d love to be in all the school systems if they’d have us,” she said.
Additionally, Proctor hopes to be in all Fluvanna, Albemarle and Louisa libraries by spring.
The therapy dogs have been to the Betty Queen Intergenerational Center to visit adult and children’s day care participants as well as seniors.
“They’re wonderful over there,” Proctor said. “I love them.”
Colleen Cole’s therapy dogs recently attended a Louisa resident’s wake. Her dogs, Finnegan and Tahchee, provided comfort to the deceased’s grandsons.
“We’re spreading sunshine,” Cole said.
On the first visit to the Louisa Health and Rehabilitation Center, Cole, her husband, Jason, and their dogs, visited approximately 15 rooms.
“The residents all had a story to tell me about different dogs that had visited them,” Cole said.
“Louisa Health and Rehab is proud to have Green Dog Pet Therapy participate in our activity program provided to both short and long term patients,” wrote Terri Dyer of the Louisa Health and Rehabilitation Center. “Pet therapy is now being used more frequently because of the proven therapeutic benefit to a wide range of patients.”
To read the entire story, see the Dec. 12 edition of The Central Virginian.