The most accepted terms for this field are Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) and Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA). AAT involves working with someone when a specific goal has been identified. If you do this as a volunteer, you will work with a professional who will assist you in selecting goals for different individuals. AAA are those activities designed to strengthen someone's quality of life. Usually performed by volunteers, they are generally "meet and greet" activities.


Meet Cancer Treatment Grant Recipient: Golden Chance

Seven-year-old Chance is a recipient of one of the foundation's Cancer Treatment Grants. Here is her story from her Mom, Mary.

Chance My First Golden
By Mary Meyer, 12/2008

I had not been able to even think about getting another dog after my Beautiful Cocker Spaniel Brandy passed away from Cancer. She was so brave and fought so hard. We had a very special bond when I was away I would instinctively know if she was sick or in pain. I would call my Mother and tell her to check on Brandy because I knew something was wrong. After she passed away, I never imagined ever getting another dog.

My brother Fred who lives in northern California had two Golden’s named T-Bear and Carley. They were very reddish in color. For me, the first time I met them, it was love at first sight. They both have since passed away from cancer.

It was eight years before I thought of getting another dog. The day I got my beautiful Chance I woke up knowing this was the day. I told my husband Andy, I was going to look for a dog and had decided to get a Golden Retriever. Andy said, “No chance you are getting one todaynot a chance, I know you."

In the local paper there were several ads for Golden puppies. I made an appointment but could hardly look at the puppies when we got there for I was feeling guilty for replacing my Brandy. One of the puppies kept coming up and nibbling on me and another was very shy and stayed in the corner away from us and the other dogs. I was going to take the one who was nibbling on me, but my mom said the small shy one was the one she liked best. I agreed and soon we were on the way home as she rode on my mother’s lap. My mom’s dog, a Westie named Buddy, was very jealous and wanted the new puppy off of her. When we got home I decided to name our new shy puppy Chance because of what my husband had said “No chance you are getting one today." Chance now loves to play with her best friend Buddy.

Chance loves the water and one day when it was raining very hard I came home and the front of our house was starting to flood. As I would fill a bucket of water and throw it out, she would jump up to try and catch it. To this day, Chance loves it when I throw water for her to jump at.

As the office manager at a Dental office I started bringing Chance to work with me when she was about eight-months-old. At first I put up a baby gate to keep her from brothering the patients. But the patients fell in love with her and started requesting she come into the dental rooms. She is especially good with children and knows when they are upset or nervous as she will go into the room and sit by their side and offer her paw for them to hold or patiently wait to be petted.

One day a parent let her child that was less then a year old go to Chance to pet her. At the time I was in another room talking to a patient when I heard a baby giggling. I came out to find the baby crawling all over Chance. As we watched, the baby crawled under and on top of her. Chance was very gentle and seemed to understand.

Chance was about 3-years-old when I first thought she would make a great therapy dog. I had trained Chance at home, but felt she needed more training if she was going to pass the therapy dog certification. I went to a local informational meeting for potential therapy dog owners. This is where I met Carol the instructor who teaches the class. It was with her encouragement I decided to first put Chance through an obedience class. With a little training, Chance passed the therapy test and was awarded her certificate with Therapy Dogs Incorporated.

We now visit rest homes once or twice a week. All I have to say is “Let’s go visit”. Chance goes up to the residents and lets them pet her and she puts her paws up on the beds when requested to. One lady has been in the rest home since she was twenty-two years old, Chance gets up on her bed and lets her hold her paw and gives her kisses. We try to spend about 30 minutes with her. As the lady sits in her wheel chair, they watch TV together or Chance may take a nap while being petted.

One gentleman who is there because of severe head injury has begun to talk to her. At first it was very difficult to understand him, but as time went by his speech got much better. Unfortunately, he has taken a turn for the worse, and lately as we visit, he just sleeps or stares. Several of the residence will cry as we visit because Chance reminds them of their pets. She just lets them talk to her as she puts her paw up for them to hold.

During one visit a resident was terrified when she was scheduled for cancer surgery; Chance and I spent time with her. I told her that Chance also had surgery to remove a tumor in her throat, and was now going thru cancer treatments. This seemed to calm her as they both had something in common.

Chance also visits Antelope Valley Hospital once a week, when I can get away from work. She has her own badge and patients love to visit with her. She visits the children’s ward as well as any special requests. One time we were asked to visit a young lady with a mental disorder. She was in a bed that had a mesh screen around it to keep her in bed, nurses with her 24 hours a day. One of her nurses asked if Chance could visit her. Chance and I went in the room with the nurse, and with the help of another nurse the screen was opened, and Chance put her paws up on the bed. The patient was frightened at first but kept staring at Chance. She eventually sat up and put her hand out to Chance.

Chance was very good and stayed very quiet while this young lady touched her. She then started to cry, the nurse indicating that she did not talk. As Chance stayed with her, she kept lying down and getting up to touch Chance. I asked her if she liked dogs. She initially just stared but then said, "No." I then asked her if she liked cats. She replied, "Yes," all the while petting Chance. The nurses said those were the first words they had ever heard from her. She then said, "Lay down," over and over again. We were with her for about 30 minutes. As we left ,she started to cry and said, "Dog."

Chance was diagnosed with cancer this past June, after the biopsy came back from her throat surgery. I took her to an oncologist where she was diagnosed with a peripheral nerve sheath tumor. Chance is now receiving a cancer vaccine every other week, and chemo medication every other day. Chance still visits the rest homes as she receives her cancer vaccine. She and I will continue her visits until she lets me know she isn't up to it anymore.




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