Abigail, a 12-year-old Great Dane/terrier mixed breed dog, gets excited when her owner takes out the grooming brush. She knows it's time to go on a visit. Abigail and her owner are registered Pet Partners with the Delta Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the human-animal bond. Abigail and her owner provide AAA (Animal Assisted Activity) visits to a local nursing home's Alzheimer's unit, and they accompany a therapist on AAT (Animal Assisted Therapy) visits to a psychiatric hospital two to four times a month.
Abigail and her owner didn't start making visits until Abigail was 10 years old. Goober, a 12-year-old cat, also is a registered Pet Partner who began making visits just two years ago. Colleen, a 12-year-old Labrador Retriever, is a retired guide dog who visits an assisted-living facility with her human teammate.
All of these animals started a new career helping people - just when you might think they should be retiring by the fireplace. If you're wondering how to keep your pets active in their senior years, AAA or AAT visits might be right for you. Older animals often make better visitors because they are not as active as younger animals.
Do you think you would like to share your pet with people in need and help make your pet's older years more meaningful for both of you? Pet Partners is a program that provides training and certification for animals and their owners who want to visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools and treatment facilities. The program, founded by the Delta Society, offers training workshops and a network of volunteers nationwide to help you get started. You also may study at home by purchasing a Pet Partners Home Study Course directly from the Delta Society.
your animal companion (dog, cat, bird, horse, llama, guinea pig, or other pet) will be evaluated for health, skills and aptitude while you receive training for AAA and AAT. Workshops are offered by local civic groups, dog clubs, pet stores, or humane societies.
If you would like to request a list of upcoming workshops in your area or find out more information about how you and your pet can become registered Pet Partners, contact the Delta Society at PO Box 1080, Renton, WA 98057-9906 or call 206-226-7357, ext. 23, or online at 74403. firstname.lastname@example.org.
The writers are Dr. Steven B. Holzman, Dr. William R. Haagenson and Dr. Kathleen Tapley. They are associated with the Nassau-Suffolk Veterinary Hospital of Farmingdale.