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"
Meet Golden Adirondac Duchess Daphne
following therapy tale came from Tom O'Connell, of
Liverpool, New York. He and his special 5½-year-old
Golden gal, Daphne, are doing some enormously inspiring
Daphne has a pretty busy schedule most months. She
visits in multiple Nursing Home settings, and children's
reading programs in the local libraries and schools.
Daphne also visits in the long term care unit at a local
hospital. And, she works in a University Hospital adult
ICU and five units of Pediatrics. In her spare time,
Daphne does some outreach programs and meet & greets at
our local mall. The following is a day in her life:
had to be there by 1:30 pm. We were visiting pediatrics
at University Hospital that day and didn't want to be
late. We arrived at the hospital a little early since
Daphne had not worked much over the holidays. We went to
the volunteer services office to hang up my jacket and
clean off Daphne's paws. After signing in and getting a
quick drink, we were off to the lobby to hang out for a
few minutes and get acclimated to the hospital
I sat in a chair and Daphne lay by my feet with her
bandana and therapy vest on. It didn't take long before
we had a group of people surrounding Daphne wanting to
know all about her.
The questions came fast
and were the same ones we hear often. "Is she a pure
breed? Is she a Golden? Is she a puppy? I've never seen
a Golden that reddish color before. She's smaller than
the Goldens I normally see, why? I took a few moments to
field the questions to everyone's satisfaction before
looking at my watch and realizing it was time to head
upstairs where we were scheduled to visit.
We waited for the elevator and when the door opened
there were two men inside. I asked if they minded if the
dog rode and they said no problem. On the second floor
we stopped and a bunch of people entered the elevator.
Daphne just sat there checking out all the new folks.
the women who got on board noticed that there was a dog
sitting in the back of the elevator and informed all,
"Hey, there's a dog back there". Again we answered
questions about Daphne's distinctive Adirondac Golden
look. After making stops at every floor we finally
reached our destination. Waiting for us was the Child
Life Specialist who would be accompanying us on our
rounds. After she greeted us (Daphne more than me), we
headed off to visit our first patient.
into the room we found a young child in bed who was
visibly ill and had undergone many difficult times
coping with Chemotherapy treatment and an amputation.
Daphne wiggled her way towards the child as I decided
how to position her since we do not always allow them
into the beds with all the patients.
however, has it figured out already. She decides on the
half-on approach, keeping her hind legs on the floor but
stretching her front end as close as possible to the
child, looking for signs of encouragement. A wide grin
spread across the girl's face as she stroked Daphne's
head. "Her fur is so soft" she said.
the next fifteen minutes talking about this Adirondac
looking little Daphne dog and how she wormed her way
into a young girl's heart in a very short time.
visit winds down I give her one of Daphne's business
cards which are photos as a way of remembering the
special time they spent together. Outside the room the
Life Specialist apologizes for not warning me ahead of
time about the child's condition. Don't worry about it,
Working with Daphne has been so rewarding. Unlike
working for modern day companies that want to do more
with less, and never say that you did good today, I
always feel like I made a difference in someone's life
after finishing a visit. The group I belong to is called
Sunshine Friends, Inc.
We also just started visiting at the hospitals high risk
pregnancy unit, as well as doing Adult Oncology end of
Let Me Meet Another Therapist