Visitation Stories From CAP Team Members

Susie & Atticus at Concord Hospital Concord, NH

My 9 year-old Labrador Retriever, Atticus, and I have been volunteering with the PUP Program (Pets Uplift People) at Concord Hospital for the last 6 months. We go one day a week and spend 2-3 hours visiting patients, their families and staff.

There are often tears – emotional releases from stress or often memories of dogs (or other animals) they have owned in the past.

Patients who have been in the hospital for weeks or days will anxiously look forward to the 10-15 minutes spent patting or hugging Atticus. And he never tires of the love and attention!

Non-verbal or immobile patients may only be able to look at him. Research has proven that seeing an animal encourages healing and calms people. Many times, staff will comment that being with Atticus for just a few minutes is therapy for them on a particularly bad day.

Anyone who may be interested in the PUP is encouraged to email or call me with questions or for more information!

Susie Nichols  Nichols.ma@comcast.net  617-974-0050

Carrie & Myrtle at Sunapee Cove, Sunapee, NH

I hadn’t expected that visiting an Assisted Living community during covid would be fun. 

Really, super-fun.

Approaching Sunapee Cove in September masked and apprehensive, I wasn’t feeling at my best on my end of the leash. I felt pretty rusty socializing in general and I suspected my companion did, too. And, honestly, I wasn’t sure Myrtle was cut out for this new therapeutic role.  

In only a week, a coordinated and supportive teamwork start to relax and energize us. It’s a multi-layered team we find ourselves on; there’s me and Myrtle, of course, but there’s also the community of fellow CAP handlers and of Sunapee Cove staff and residents. And all the dogs!  Despite the big number—often five or six dogs—an easy familiarity has developed on Tuesday mornings. Myrtle and I sense the warmth; it has boosted our confidence and given us a new home to bond and grow in. I’m discovering little ways the two of us can stay connected as a pair—a hand on her back, an ear massage—while interacting with new friends. I see her eagerness to be there and her willingness to be at her best.

It’s so fun to share her.  

Each week, one out-going resident wonders aloud, “Don’t you wish you knew what they’re thinking?” As it solidly thump-thump-thumps her knee, the swinging black tail offers us answer enough. It seems we’re all thinking the same thing!

Patrick and Rosey visit the James Tuttle Library in Antrim, NH

Rosey (aka Hey Rosey Girl) has been visiting the James Tuttle Library in Antrim, NH with her daddy Patrick. Reading with Rosey has become a monthly event for the children of Antrim.   Once a month the children in the Antrim community visit with Rosey and read to her. Rosey’s job is to help boost self-esteem, bring comfort and to ease anxiety to the children. After the children read to Rosey they receive a Rosey trading card, dog tag that says, “I read to Rosey” and a bookmark.

Rosey has been able to do her magic and help multiple children throughout her time in the reading program. The Reading program will be expanding to a whole new level in the coming months. Rosey has a book on Amazon called, “Rosey’s Adventures Coloring Book and Story Writing”. The book is designed to help young children with their writing. The plan is for the children to write a Rosey adventure story then read their story to Rosey. The book contains writing prompts and step by step graphic organizer to walk the children through a story writing process. There are even pages designed to write comic strips. Rosey celebrated with the summer reading children with a parade. Rosey led a community parade of twelve summer readers.  Rosey has become an Antrim Celebrity.

Andrea & Greta, Sue & Nella at The Village at White River Junction

CAP volunteers recently partnered with The Village at White River Junction to provide weekly visits there. Sue Burrill and her Norfolk Terrier, Nella, and Andrea Kegelman along with her Bernese Mountain Dog, Greta, have been at the forefront of this partnership. Greta and Nella work seamlessly together providing residents a sense of joy and comfort brought from Greta and Nella’s unconditional love and playfulness.

The residents have wholeheartedly welcomed and embraced us, evident by them joining us week after week.  The program has quickly evolved into something that the volunteers, their dogs and the residents all look forward to. Countless afternoons have been spent reminiscing about beloved pets from the past while appreciating the affection that Nella and Greta have to offer while enjoying a cuddle or 2.

Please submit your visitation story for online publication to: caringanimalpartners.org/submit-your-visitation-stories. Please send pictures to rowenawilks@gmail.com