paws for reflection

Shiny Happy Pets Issue

When on the job, therapy dogs like Rumor, a 7-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback, have game faces. Ones that are still fuzzy and cute, of course, but that also reflect focus and preparedness. “When she enters the children’s hospital, she becomes a different dog,” says Lisa Serad, Rumor’s mom and trainer, who is also the new Pet Therapy Program Coordinator at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). “Therapy dogs know when to go into ‘game on’ mode — Rumor’s cue is when I put her hospital bandanna on!” Since beginning her work with therapy dogs at CHOP in 1992, Serad has experienced more than her fair share of unforgettable, heartwarming scenes — some that border on miraculous. “Bongo, a Ridgeback I had prior to Rumor, once prompted a response from a comatose patient. The parents mentioned that the child was an animal lover, so I had Bongo bark while in the room. The patient’s head, arm and leg moved in the direction of the bark. The mother referred to Bongo as ‘the dog that saved my child.’” This is just one of the countless large and small success stories that happen every day on the job, Serad says. Sometimes, children find comfort in hugging her after a painful physical therapy procedure. Other times, Rumor simply sits quietly as a child reads her a book. “These are children afraid to read in front of their peers,” explains Serad. “It’s the most rewarding feeling when a parent tells you what strides their child is making.” It’s easy for Rumor to inspire a smile, but her job requirements go way beyond an adorable face. In many cases, the most important lesson therapy dogs must learn is that both the people and equipment all around them are fragile. “These special dogs have basic leash manners that are brought to a laser-sharp precision,” says Serad. “Bongo grew to be 110 lbs., and he would tip-toe over oxygen cords!” Serad says she believes Rhodesian Ridgebacks are like potato chips — you can’t just have one. “I’m in love with the breed. I’d like to add another to follow in Rumor’s pawprints.” And she sleeps better knowing that Rumor’s health — and that of any future fourlegged family members — will be protected by Petplan if they should need their own trip to the hospital. “Therapy dogs don’t want to miss work for any reason — they understand how much they’re needed.” roll over regular | paws for reflection trained to heal by peter leonowitz “Sometimes, children find comfort in hugging her after a painful physical therapy procedure. Other times, Rumor simply sits quietly as a child reads her a book.” 64 the shiny happy pets issue


Shiny Happy Pets Issue
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