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 Golden Pepper

This is Pepper, a Golden sweetheart who is specially trained to visit with senior citizens. In this photo taken by Debbie Weisman, she is making friends, shaking her paw in friendship. Bedminster Township Committeeman Joe Metelski is introducing Pepper to Ingrid Oesinaes, a resident of the New Jersey Eastern Star Nursing Home in Bridgewater.

Dog Days are Favorites at Nursing Home
By Alison Waldman, Star-Ledger News Staff Writer, August 3, 2000

With a wag of her tail and a shake of her paw, Pepper, an 8-year-old Golden Retriever, transformed the quiet sitting room of the New Jersey Eastern Star Nursing Home in Bridgewater yesterday morning. Residents gathered to visit with the friendly pooch, reflecting on memories of their past pets and admiring Pepper's calm nature as she rested her head on their laps and rolled over at their feet for belly rubs. "I always liked dogs and I always had a dog," said resident Grace McAuley, fondly remembering the fox terriers she kept in her former Ringoes home.

Pepper and her companion, Joseph Metelski, have visited the home two to three times a month for the past two years because the residents enjoy it. Recently, Pepper and Metelski were trained to become even better house guests. The duo completed training as a pet-partners team at the St. Hubert's Giralda animal shelter. The program included eight hours of classroom training and temperament tests.
The pair passed with the highest score in the class for obedience and behavior, said Metelski, a Bedminster Township committeeman. Learning proper pet control through the program certified Metelski and Pepper to visit hospitals, nursing homes and halfway houses. Since they completed the training, the program also has insured them for up to $1 million in the event of an accident.
Metelski said there are few places where Pepper and his 3-year-old Rottweiler, Roxy, do not accompany him. The three have frequented the municipal building and planning board meetings in their town and he plans to visit more hospitals and facilities with Pepper, who he said is the calmer of the two.
The nursing home has been host to many animals, including the four lovebirds and two cockatiels who inhabit the front sitting room, said Yvonne Klock, administrator for the home. But a visit from Pepper is special. "Pepper is a favorite," Klock said. "She is so well-mannered and everybody loves her." Rita Martin stroked Pepper's soft fur and let the dog lick her hand. "It gives you something to look forward to," she said.

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