March 2016 – Junior was honored on March 30 at a retirement party given by University Health System who put together a video about Junior. KSAT 12, FOX 29, and NEWS 4 San Antonio were there for this newsworthy event.
February 2016 – I wanted to share with you that my therapy cat, Junior, was recently diagnosed with Melanoma. The end of December, he had his left eye removed and the pathology report came back as such. Within in a week, there was a lesion forming in the other eye and an ultrasound at ophthalmologist showed the same sort of tumor forming and also a mass in the cavity below the eye. I was told there was nothing more really I could do. He is still hanging in there. He has lost ALOT of weight, but continues to be alert and does not seem to be in any pain or discomfort. I am SO glad for that. He sleeps alot and eats and drinks a little. He is such a sweetheart. He is 16 1/2 years old and has been a therapy cat since April 2000.
On Friday (1/22) and Monday (1/25) I took him to the hospital for his last visits. He made ‘happy paws’ as we entered the hospital. He has always enjoyed visiting. We visited over 100 staff members in those 2 days and shed ALOT of tears. He has been visiting University Hospital for 12 years – most in Pediatrics, but more recently visiting some adult patients, too. He has touched thousands of lives and it has really hit me the impact this very special cat has had.
The hospital considers him the one that brought Pet therapy there to what it is today – their own Paws Up program with 12 other therapy teams and aiming for many more. We even get prescriptions from physicians now for animal therapy. A painting of him and a patient still hangs in the elevator lobby of one of the floors there. In the last year or so, the hospital has been aggressively encouraging pet therapy visits to all the staff, too – especially in areas of the hospital where there are no patients. The availability of Pet Therapy is a draw even in the hiring process.
It has truly been a privilege to go through this whole experience. I appreciate TASA’s and Pet Partner’s parts in making it possible. My gratefulness for having such a wonderful cat in my life is beyond words. He has received numerous awards in his time of service. I suspect he is the longest-serving therapy cat in the history of Pet Partners.
For now, Tessa (therapy dog) and I will continue our work and hopefully before too long I will have another cat to ‘join the force’.
January 2016 – Meet the Team
When did you and Junior become a team? – In 2000
What other partners have you had? – Cassie (sheltie mix, 3-legged) 2000 – 2009, Tessa (rat terrier) 2009 – present, Sheba (cat) 2011-2013
In what type of facility are you visiting? – Hospital and occasional nursing home
In what other Therapy Animals activities do you and your partner participate? – We visit 2 libraries with StoryTails. We also participate in presentations, college de-stressors, and parades.
Tell us something about your partner that we may not know. – Junior broke his hip at 2 years old – femoral head was removed. He can not jump up to a counter on his own.
What Therapy Animals leadership position(s) do you currently have? – I am the Treasurer, volunteer system support chair, and University Hospital coordinator for our volunteers.
What other leadership positions have you had? – Secretary
Tell us something about yourself that we may not know. – I worked for The Prudential for 13 years and then farmed cotton, grain and corn with my husband on a family farm for 15 years in the Rio Grande Valley (where Junior comes from). I grew up in Upstate NY and while working for Prudential, lived there, CA, MA, NJ and TX. In my baby book, my Mom wrote that my first 2 syllables were “Kit-tee” and my first word was “cat.”