Aby-a-Day – April 18: Therapy isn’t just for human patients…however…

Kylie recently needed to go to Angell Memorial to have a vet check-up.

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It’s nothing major; just a follow-up on some chronic congestion that we think may be Feline Herpes Virus-related.

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Jacoby went along to offer moral support.

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He kept her company in the examination room while Dr. Johnson discussed Kylie’s sniffles with us.

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He also patrolled the waiting room.

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Which is important, because there are dogs there, too. Kylie’s not as used to being around dogs as Jake is.

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Speaking of therapy visits, though, you may have seen some articles in the news about therapy dogs being sent to Boston to comfort victims.

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I find this rather ironic as Jake and I were not able to make our usual therapy visit to Tufts this week as the hospital is still on high alert and is closed to non-essential personnel (“Access to Tufts Medical Center will be through the Emergency Department, Biewend or the Floating Hospital crossover entrances. All other entrances will be closed. Please have your I.D. ready and be prepared to have any bags checked”). We are still waiting to hear when we might be able to visit victims along with our regular patients. And I am hoping that we can come back to visit Jake’s friends next week as usual.

However, things like the above are happening here in Boston; there are armed guards like the one above stationed not only outside Tufts Medical Center, but in various places around the city, including Post Office Square in downtown, which is near where I work.

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It’s just kind of interesting that there are all these stories about therapy dogs flying in from all over the country when we locals can’t make our regular visits. However, it’s also important to note that these dogs are not certified with the same organisation that Jake and I are. They also seem to not be going into hospitals so much as they are going to the areas that are open – or partially open – to the public, such as the runners’ bag pick-up area at the finish line on Tuesday, and making impromptu independent “vists.”

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Jake and I are certified with Pet Partners (formerly known as The Delta Society) and have been visiting since 2010. Pet Partners’ animal-assisted therapy program was established in 1990 to ensure that “both ends of the leash,” people as well as animals, were well-prepared to participate in animal-assisted activity and animal-assisted therapy programs. Pet Partners’ Therapy Animal Program is the only national registry that requires volunteer training and screening of animal-handler teams. They’re also the only program that accepts a wide range of species of domesticated animals; registered Pet Partners include not only dogs and cats but also guinea pigs, rabbits, domesticated rats, horses, llamas, donkeys, pot-bellied pigs, Cockatoos, African Gray Parrots, chickens and ducks. As a matter of fact, there’s a miniature horse named Lily who also visits Tufts Medical Center! (Lily also had to skip her visit this week.)

This is the letter that Pet Partners sent out to registered teams, dated 16 April:

Dear Volunteers;

We have received outpourings of concern from our therapy animal teams for the people affected by the tragedy in Boston. We share with them and all our nation the grief for those killed, concern for those injured, and for the many other people, friends and families who have been affected.

We truly appreciate offers from many of our teams to travel to the Boston area to comfort those in need. At this time, we ask that teams wait until we have coordinated efforts with local agencies and our local representatives and have determined the situations and settings in which animal-assisted interactions can best be utilized. Once these efforts are determined, we will communicate them to teams residing in the Boston area and will call on teams outside the area for additional assistance as needed.

Thank you for your concern and willingness to help,

The Staff of Pet Partners

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So don’t worry…we’ll be back as soon as we can!