Member Frank Bugaj and his Pet Partner Angus during finals at the Elihu Burritt Library at Central Connecticut State University.
Eastern Hosts Fresh Check Day Program
By Office of University Relations on April 30, 2012 11:13 AM
On April 19, Eastern was the first college campus in the nation to host Fresh Check Day -- a concept created by The Jordan Matthew Porco Memorial Foundation that is designed to bring the campus community together to "check-in" on the mental health and wellness of college students.
Eastern's Fresh Check Day began in the Student Center, where relaxation and stress relief were addressed through a vibrational sound massage exhibit, "Gong the Planet" and "Tails of Joy Therapy Dogs." In the evening in the Betty R. Tipton Room, Jordan Burnham from Active Minds spoke. Burnham, a nationally-recognized speaker, told the story of surviving a nine-story fall/suicide attempt. "Life After the Fall" is a moving presentation that addresses mental health issues, suicide and survival.
The signature events of Fresh Check Day took place on April 21, when Webb Lawn was transformed into an expo-like atmosphere to bring together 10 interactive exhibits, combined with free food and raffle giveaways. The band, Barefoot Truth, kicked off Eastern's popular Battle of the Bands.
Students attending Fresh Check Day earned Dean's Cup Points. The 10 expo booths offered students ways to relax, de-stress, reach out and recognize depression in their friends.
All events were organized by the Offices of Counseling and Psychological Services and Student Activities, student volunteers and representatives of The Jordan Matthew Porco Memorial Foundation. For more information, please visit www.freshcheckday.com.
Tails of Joy Member Taffy Wilcox and team-mate, Kiza featured on WFSB's Better Connecticut with Scot Haney.
by Traci Tefft
The Granby Drummer, April 2010
Hospice care is one of the fastest growing segments of health care in the United States today. Utilizing a special team of health care professionals and trained volunteers who assist a patient and his or her family during the last stage of life, the team adds a special dimension to the care the patient may already be receiving from doctors. The hospice team typically consists of a nurse, social worker, spiritual counselor, occupational and physical therapists and trained volunteers. The focus is palliative care, which means making the patient as comfortable as possible, when curative treatment is no longer appropriate. The hospice team helps the patient work through the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of being near death, as well as helping the family who is also experiencing the loss of a loved one.
A fairly new phenomenon in hospice care is the use of pets, specifically dogs, for therapy. A former Granby schoolteacher, Taffy Wilcox, has been using her cocker spaniels as hospice therapy dogs for the past seven years. Wilcox started doing pet therapy for Masonicare Partners in East Hartford. More recently, she has committed her time to the McLean Hospice program in Simsbury, and is very busy visiting patients at McLean and other local nursing homes that are receiving care under the McLean hospice program.
Wilcox owns three cocker spaniels; Tani, Kiza, and Shukuru. Their names come from the language of Tanzania, which is Swahili. The oldest dog, Tani, is 14 and when Wilcox first got him, her daughter was serving as a missionary in Tanzania and suggested her mom name the dog Mtani, which means “special friend.” Mzindikiza is 8 years old and her name means “one who walks by your side.” Shukuru, the pup of the family, has a name that means “give thanks.” Wilcox got him at Thanksgiving a year and a half ago.
When Wilcox first began offering pet therapy services, Tani was the dog who sat in patients’ laps and allowed himself to be stroked and loved. Now that Tani is fourteen, Wilcox is using Kiza for patient visits. If allowed, Kiza will lie down next to the patient in bed and provide love and comfort. It is quite a special moment.
Along with her background in education and pastoral counseling, Wilcox received training as a hospice volunteer from McLean. Tani and Kiza also received training and are officially registered as therapy dogs with the national organization, the Delta Society. They are also part of a local organization called Tails of Joy, from the Manchester area.
Wilcox has also used her dogs for a different kind of therapy called READ. READ is an acronym for reading education assistance dogs. Wilcox would bring her dogs to schools in Hartford and New Britain where children would read to them, leading to noticeable improvements in the children’s confidence and reading skills. The READ program is in decline because increasing demands on teachers result in lack of time to pursue special programs like READ. Also, there is concern over allergies that some children have to pet dander. Wilcox does bring her dogs to local libraries that have programs available for children to read to the dogs.
Taffy Wilcox is a very special volunteer who is using her resources to give back to the community she loves. For awhile she felt some frustration doing hospice care, because even though she knew she was helping patients during the last days of their lives, it was hard to face their deaths. Now she realizes that she and her dogs are providing a special gift for the patients as they leave this earth.
BRISTOL — Seven-year-old Victoria Holcomb of Forestville seemed to have captured the rapt attention of Charlie, a Boston Terrier’s, attention Saturday as she read from “Henry and Mudge and the Snowman Plan.” Then James, a springer spaniel trotted into the reading room of Monross Library and Charlie’s attention wavered. For a moment he seemed torn between the story of Henry and the new canine. But Victoria’s dulcet vocal tones soon brought the dog back to his primary mission.
“Since we have a new dog in the house — Cup Cake, a pit bull — it’s good practice for her to read to a dog,” said Victoria’s mom, Jackie.
By the time, Victoria had finished reading, more than 15 kids with parents or guardians had crowded into the library reading area.
Mike Orazzi | Staff
Crystal Cleveland,7, reads to James as his owner Wendy Hirtle looks on at the Manross Library in Forestville during an event with the Tails of Joy Reading Education Assistance Dogs on Saturday.
Mike Grossi of Plainville, a representative of the local Tails of Joy, the organization hosting the Read-to-Dogs event, explained that Tails of Joy is part of the Delta Society. The society is a national therapy group dedicated to improving health and comfort through interaction with service and therapy animals. He is also a member of Reading Education Assistance Dogs, an all-volunteer organization, that bring dogs into schools, libraries and nursing homes as part of a relational therapy.
R.E.A.D. is a program to improve elementary schoolchildren’s reading skills with help from Pet Partner Therapy teams. The teams have completed a training program for dogs and their human companions.
According to Grossi, the breed of the dog doesn't matter. Saturday at the library he was assisted by James the spaniel; Charlie the terrier; and Ollie and Oola, Bernese mountain dogs. Grossi said the dogs he uses are laid back. They need to be patient for at least an hour and a half. If kids are afraid of dogs, this experience can help them overcome their fear.
The event is free, no cost to a parent or guardian. Librarians hear about it and place the item in newspapers.
“The secret to improving a child’s reading is a quiet spot, a listening dog and a good book,” Grossi said. Most dogs are companions of their volunteers. Grossi said schoolchildren who have read to a R.E.A.D. dog once a week for six months have shown a remarkable increase in their reading ability, ranging from two to six levels.
Charlie’s companion, who asked not to be identified, said she had been looking for a way to get involved in the community.
“I’m passionate about working with dogs,” she said. “I have a lot of free time and wanted to give back to the community.”
Five-year-old Dylan and his mother, Sharee Dionne visit the library every other day. A kindergarten student at Bristol’s Green Hills, Dylan said he enjoyed reading, also the “Make-and-Take” dog craft, a hand puppet made from toilet tissue rolls.
Grossi believes the program is successful because there’s no parent or teacher pointing a finger at the child. Sometimes the dog will lay his face in the kid’s lap or book. Then, too, dogs are not judgmental.
“You can usually tell the outcome from how the kid acts,” Grossi said. “Most of them leave with a smile on their face. It’s a three-way thing — the parent or guardian, the child, and of course, the dog — all three have to be happy.”
Moira O'Neill and Chin Chin interviewed on the For Health, For Life television program. View the Show
TOJ TEAM WINS INTERNATIONAL AWARD!
February 26, 2009
Paul Rothberg and Marshmallow from Newington, CT are one of just four Pet Partners (therapy animal) teams being honored as winners in the international Delta Society Beyond Limits Award sponsored by Purina. Honorees were chosen from over ten thousand registered Pet Partners teams representing 13 countries.
Delta Society Pet Partners are specially trained volunteers who with their pet (cat, dog, rabbit, llama, etc.) dedicate themselves to helping improve the lives of others in their communities. They visit hospitalized patients, seniors in assisted living centers, comfort people in hospice, help children learn to read and so much more.
Paul Rothberg & Marshmallow
Beyond Limits Awards 2008
Pet Partners Rookie Category
Paul Rothberg and his Bichon Frise, Marshmallow, recently won the Rookie category which recognizes Pet Partners with one to two years of experience. According to their many fans, Paul and Marshmallow are a true Pet Partners team. The two started visiting nursing homes when Paul’s mother-in-law was forced to transition to an assisted living facility. After a few visits, Paul and Marshmallow joined a local Delta Society affiliate group called Tails of Joy so they could bring cheer and healing to other residents. They now visit two nursing homes and one hospital regularly.
“Each week seems to bring a new surprise that warms my heart!” Paul says. After only a few visits from Marshmallow, one woman who “didn’t like dogs” commented “I am ninety years old and can’t believe that I have missed this for all my life.” Aside from faithfully making their rounds, Paul continues to volunteer his time with the Tails of Joy group: coordinating new procedures, writing grants, and training new Pet Partners teams. One can only hope that their trainees will someday live up to the example set by this “dream team.”
"Paul and Marshmallow do a wonderful job bringing cheer, hope and healing to the patients, visitors and staff as they make their rounds,” says Kelley Boothby, Volunteer Services Manager at Hartford Hospital.
Please join us in congratulating and thanking Paul Rothberg and Marshmallow on receiving this special award and for all that they do to bring joy, compassion, motivation and inspiration to many people in your community!
About Delta Society
Delta Society, an international 501(c)(3) non profit, was founded in 1977 by a veterinarian and a psychologist who observed in their own practices that pets had a positive effect on their human patients. They started the organization to fund some of the first credible research which proved that animals have a profound impact on people’s health by lowering their blood pressure, reducing stress and anxiety levels, stimulating the release of endorphins which make people feel good, and so much more. Today, Delta Society helps people across the world become healthier and happier by experiencing the benefits of having companion, service and therapy animals in their everyday lives. To learn more visit our website at www.deltasociety.org.
About Nestlé Purina Pet Care
Nestlé Purina PetCare promotes responsible pet care, community involvement and the positive bond between people and their pets. A premiere global manufacturer of pet products, Nestlé Purina Pet Care is part of the Swiss based Nestlé S.A., the world’s largest pet food company.
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