March 2016 – This young lady came up to me yesterday while we were doing a presentation/booth at USAA. She told me she was the aunt of a little boy who Tessa and I had visited in Hem/Oncology at UHS not too long ago. She told me the little boy had passed away and Tessa was part of their memories with him. She showed me a video on her phone of Tessa and him interacting together. He was all smiles and at one point picked up Tessa’s two front paws and pretended to dance with her. As I watched it and recalled the moments, tears came to my eyes. It is hard for me to comprehend sometimes what a privilege we have of sharing in moments like these.
January 2016 – Meet the Team
When did you and Tessa become a team? – In 2009
What other partners have you had? – Junior (cat) 2000 – present, Cassie (sheltie mix, 3-legged) 2000 – 2009, 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. – Tessa was adopted when she was slated for euthanasia. When I got her, I found out she had heartworm and she was successfully treated.
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.”
August 2012 – Tessa and I had a most incredible visit yesterday! A physical therapist asked me if I could help with the little girl getting her to walk. She has been very reluctant to do this with any of the therapists. Both of her legs were burned badly from hip to toe. As they worked her out of the bed, Tessa sat nearby giving encouragement. The little girl was Spanish speaking only, but kept smiling and saying ‘Puppy’. Once they had her on the floor and put her hands on her little walker, she immediately smiled and reached for Tessa’s leash. She did this in spite of obviously being in quite a bit of pain. She then proceeded to walk with the support of the therapist and her mom and even, for brief moments, on her own. We walked around the entire floor. I held the leash close to Tessa so that she would not pull too hard, as a little girl was walking very slowly. The little girl obviously felt special because she had a dog with her as she walked. The therapist said she wished that Tessa could come every day as this was the most the little girl had walked. They then put the little girl on a bicycle and the little girl looped the leash onto the handle and we walked alongside her as she rode the bicycle. It was so touching to see her little smile as she walked along and she looked at the dog.
Also see Bev Oakes and Junior.