Tails of Joy Animal Asssisted Therapy, Connecticut

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Members In The News

nbc30.com, October 14, 2008
Dogs Wag Tails Of Joy

SOUTHINGTON, Conn. -- A special group of dogs is bringing joy to people at hospitals, schools, libraries and other organizations across the state.

“The dogs must pass several criteria and become certified, registered pet partners,” said Mike Grossi, a volunteer with Tails of Joy who makes about nine visits per month to organizations the group helps. Recently, the dogs made their monthly visit to the Alzheimer's Resource Center in Southington, which provides services including living assistance, adult day care and community programs for people with Alzheimer's disease.

Mary Strauss said dogs make the residents’ day. "The residents absolutely love them, so do the members of our adult day center and their families," she said. Grossi said he sees the difference the dogs make to the people they visit. "You can really see it. When you go up there and you see the smiles and the joy that they get … but just putting their hand on the dog’s head really makes them smile," Grossi said.

Strauss is grateful to volunteers like Grossi, who help make the program possible. "I told him recently, other guys when they retire they go on the golf course and Mike does this wonderful thing for people who really benefit from it and he brings joy to people's lives," she said. Grossi said the volunteer work also brings him joy.

"I feel real happy when I see these dogs have made everybody else happy," Grossi said.

nbc30.com, July 3, 2008
Your Stories: Woman, Dog Make Sick Children Feel Better

VERNON, Conn. -- A Vernon woman and her dog, known as Claire and Bear, have come to be a bright spot for children during difficult times. "The kids will see him and they just seem to forget what's going on around them other than the dog," said Claire Rolando. Bear participates in a program called Pedi Pal, which is run by the Connecticut Visiting Nurses Association Partners. He visits children who are terminally ill, in hospice or have life-limiting diseases.

Bear recently made his third visit to Anthony, an 11-year-old Hartford boy who has muscular dystrophy. "He looks more like a bear," Anthony said. Anthony's mom, Brenda, said she values the visits. "He got excited. He wanted to see the dog," Brenda said.

"He seems to instinctively know how a patient - whether they're frail, whether they're able to interact - how well they're doing," Rolando said.

Bear and Rolando have been making house calls since 2005. "For the parents and the children, it seems to be way more than we can even conceive of. I don't know how you don't do it. And anybody can do it. I'm just a person next door," Rolando said.

Anthony’s mother said he is always in the house, so the visits mean a lot. “He doesn't do much, so for people to come visit him it's a big deal for him," she said. "Just to see the smile on their face, to be told they won’t see anyone else, but they're willing to see the dog. It means a lot," Rolando said.

Bear came into Rolando’s live after she saw him on NBC 30 during a Sunday morning segment called Best Friends.

Spring 2008

Connecticut VNA Partners’ Hospice Recognizes Very Special Volunteers During National Volunteer Week

Volunteer Claire Rolando of Vernon Receives D.O.V.E. Award

In celebration of National Volunteer Week, and in keeping with an annual tradition, Connecticut VNA Partners’ Hospice honored community volunteers. Connecticut VNA Partners’ Hospice is a not-for-profit home health and hospice agency dedicated to expanding and strengthening home health care options to residents throughout Central Connecticut.

At a special award event held to recognize the extraordinary volunteers assigned through the program’s East Hartford office, each honoree was presented with a thank you certificate and a ribbon pin that signified the number of volunteer hours and years of service given to the hospice program.

Ms. Claire Rolando of Vernon received the highly regarded Dedicated to Outstanding Volunteer Excellence (D.O.V.E.) award. The D.O.V.E. award is given yearly to one volunteer who exhibits exceptional dedication to the program and exemplifies the true spirit of hospice care.

Deborah Richards, Director of Volunteers for Connecticut VNA’s Hospice and Connecticut VNA Partners’ Hospice, and Kara Mazzola, volunteer coordinator for the East Hartford hospice team, praised Ms. Rolando for her dedication and commitment to the hospice patients she visits. “Claire is a wonderfully warm person and an enthusiastic ambassador for our Pedi-Pal program for children with life-limiting illness. Since 2005, when Claire and her Delta-certified pet therapy dog, a Rottweiler named Bear, joined our program, they’ve brought many smiles and much joy to the numerous patients they’ve visited – both young and old. Her enthusiasm, flexibility and caring spirit make her an outstanding choice to receive this year’s D.O.V.E. award.”

Connecticut VNA Partners’ Hospice is an affiliate of Masonicare and Saint Francis Hospital. For information on Connecticut VNA’s hospice program or to learn how you can become a volunteer, call 1-888-482-8862.

November 2007

Cat FancyPet Partners Kathleen and Carlton in Cat Fancy

CarltonA Calming Presence
Therapy cats provide love and companionship to those who need it.
by Jennifer Williams, PhD.



Mtani Featured on Senator Lieberman's Website

Senator Lieberman and MtaniSenator Lieberman honored Mtani (pronounced TAHnee – silent M) as one of CT's Best for his work as a Reading Education Assistance Dog for the program Tails of Joy.

Kindergarten teacher Jennifer Faning got the idea to do this when her mother-in-law sent her a picture of a child reading to a dog that ran in a North Carolina paper. Mtani and his owner, retired kindergarten teacher Daphne Wilcox, have been meeting individually with four first-graders since November to help improve their reading skills.

For Some Students, Teacher's The Pet

Mtani in the Read ProgramTails of Joy member Daphne Wilcox and Mtani — which means "special friend" in Swahili were featured in a Hartford Courant article about the R.E.A.D. program.

"Mtani and his owner, retired kindergarten teacher Daphne Wilcox, have been meeting individually with four first-graders since November to help them improve their reading skills. The theory is that struggling readers might be embarrassed to read in front of a class or even a teacher but that the dog provides a comforting, nonjudgmental audience."

February 17, 2005, Hartford Courant
By RACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant Staff Writer


Barbara Hubbard and Laddie featured in The Yale-New Haven Hospital Bulletin

Volunteer Barbara Hubbard was having a hard time getting through the Atrium during Volunteer Week. She accompanied her 5-year old collie, Laddie, and their presence encouraged patients and visitors to stop and talk and caress Laddie's glorious coat, making their progress slow.



Bella, Echo and PennyJeanne: "Dogs are the perfect ambassadors of acceptance and love because they are non-judgemental, willing to please, and good listeners."

TOJ member Jeanne Katkavich and her dogs Bella, Echo and Penny are part of a team that does weekly therapy work at the state-run Connecticut Children's Place, a home for troubled youths ages 10 to 18. Clinician Charles Rehmer, who oversees the pet therapy program, says "The dogs offer offer the kids unqualified attention and acceptance."

Manchester Journal Inquirer, December 27, 2003



Nashville listens intentlyTwo boys read "The 300 Pound Cat" to Nashville, a Reading Education Assistance Dog, at the Mary Edwards Library in Willington. The program is designed to help children develop their reading skills.

Nashville lives with TOJ members Susan Gagnon and Ted Urbanski.




Susan and NashvilleTOJ member Sue Gagnon and Nashville, who is blind, were featured in a Journal Enquirer article about the challenges of training a visually impaired dog. "It takes adjusting," Sue says. "You have to keep remembering he can't see." She has also taught him commands such as "Careful" to let him know he is about to bump into something.

Nashville and Sue are registered Delta Society Pet Partners and provide therapy visits at Windham Hospital and Woodlake at Tolland, a healthcare facility. They are also participating in the new Story Tails R.E.A.D. program after receiving additional training.

Journal Inquirer, August 20, 2003





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