From Grayslake High School
I just can't thank you enough for visiting Grayslake Central High School today! We had such a great time and I honestly believe that every person left our Psychology Club meeting less stressed and with a smile on their face!
The work you do with the dogs and the kids is appreciated and respected. I can't wait to talk to my kids tomorrow. I saw a few on my way out of the building and they just kept saying how much fun they had! Your pups were beautiful and so well-behaved. I would love to possibly contact you again in the future for my actual classes. It was great talking to you and I know the kids appreciated your fun personalities!
Thanks again for all that you do,
Heather O'Connor, Grayslake High School
From Lutheran General Hospital
Fourteen gentle, friendly therapy dogs elicited a lot of "awws" and patting of heads as their owners gathered for a luncheon at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital.
Magda Scanlan, the hospital's manager of volunteer services, praised the volunteers for bringing smiles, relaxation and moments of comfort to very sick patients.
Susan Burrows, who organizes 150 therapy dog programs in Chicago-area hospitals, libraries and schools in her role as program coordinator for Rainbow Assisted Animal Therapy of Morton Grove, in turn praised the hospital, saying, "From the very beginning, the staff and the hospital have always 'gotten' what the dogs could accomplish."
Rainbow has been operating programs in five units at Lutheran General, in Park Ridge near Niles, including doing all the training of the dogs and their owners, since the hospital started doing animal therapy five years ago.
Easing patients' pain
Each of the 11 volunteers took turns telling their experiences with the dogs and the patients. One was working with a female patient who dreaded using a walker, but once she got a chance to walk the dog down the hallway with it, her resistance decreased. Another told of the stroke patients who managed a smile when her dog came to visit them.
Yet another told of a dog who had had a leg amputated after a bout with cancer, and how he inspired human patients.
Still another patient, a stroke victim, would not hold a fork to eat, but had fun using a fork to feed green beans to one of the dogs.
'Makes their tears go away'
"We were fortunate to get in the adolescent (units)," said Dawn Kahn of Mundelein, who volunteers with her husband Ed and dogs Thelma and Louise.
"They take to the dogs. It's an experience that's overwhelming."
Terri Mix of Park Ridge and her King Charles Cavalier spaniel, Daisy Mae, work with a therapist in the geriatric and psychiatric units.
"She (the therapist) always asks them their mood before we come, and usually it's a two or three (on a 10-point scale)," Mix said. "Daisy Mae makes their tears go away."
Patients always rate their moods higher after the canine visit, she said, sometimes only by a point or two, but one patient once registered a 15.
A dog while dying
Hardly anyone, human or animal, in the room made a sound when Burrows told her story: "The most touching, transcending blessing we ever had working in peds (pediatrics) was with a boy dying of leukemia. He wanted to die holding a dog," she said, her voice breaking.
"That taught me the dogs are here for a reason that transcends anything I could imagine."
Having you and the dogs has been amazing. The children love the dogs. Parents have been so pleased that we have the therapy dogs come to our school. Thank you for everything.
teacher at Jefferson School, Niles
The Rainbow therapy dog teams “work on the children’s IEP goals by incorporating skills into their time together. The gross motor skills of walking, independent sitting, reaching and throwing perfectly align with our goals…. We get all of these benefits and new friends to love. Win, win!
Mrs. VandeHey, Special Education Teacher
Gray Sanborn School, Palatine
“The children were very motivated to be part of every session and practiced turn taking and impulse control through the variety of activities they participated in….”
Fairview South School, Skokie
“The AIME program services students with mild to moderate disabilities. These children are all challenged by mental impairments. Some students are also visually of physically impaired, while others have language or behavior difficulties…. You and your therapy dogs provided numerous opportunities for the students to develop and demonstrate expressive and receptive language skills, gross motor skills, and social skills. Some of the skills this program reinforced were listening to and following directions, taking turns, asking questions, answering questions, naming or identifying colors, and demonstrating knowledge of prepositions. They learned many of the rules for staying safe around dogs. You provide a wonderful service…. How lucky we were to have you be part of our program.”
Ellen Robinson, Intermediate AIME teacher
Winston Campus Elementary School, Palatine
“We have seen tremendous benefits to the children. Children who were initially frightened of the dog learned to interact with the animal…. The (handlers) were always patient and reassuring, creating a sense of trust with the children. They were quick to praise the students…. The children learned to follow directions and were encouraged to talk to give the dog commands. Academic skills were enhanced such as color recognition… The Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy Program is one of the few outside programs brought to our school that is truly appropriate for our students.”
Deirdre Kenney, ECSE Teacher,
Primary Special Education Teacher
Susan Lamb, Intermediate Special Education Teacher
Julie Wilkinson, Upper Special Education Teacher
Solomon School, Chicago
Animal assisted therapy dogs…have been very beneficial at our school. The volunteers from Rainbow have interacted well with a variety of students. We have students who are medically fragile and highly physically challenged as well as students with autism, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), and paraplegia (Sickle cell anemia, post/stroke). The (Rainbow) volunteers tailor the program to the lower level students (cognitively and physically) and adjust up to the higher functioning students. Students are approached via the idea of start where each child is and build on their strengths. Students at both ends participate to the fullest and the volunteers are excellent at teasing out what works best for each child. Working with the students who are highly physically challenged, the volunteers are very patient, giving the students time to process and then respond. They collaborate well with the staff of occupational and physical therapists to find out what works best with each individual. …. Both the volunteers and the dogs are what we call “bomb proof”; they competently handle some tough behaviors from our higher level students. I highly recommend this program to anyone interested in utilizing their services….”
Jennifer Horton, M.S., OTR/L, RYT
Lester and Rosalie Anixter Center,
Stuart G. Ferst School, Chicago
St. Mary’s continues to welcome visits by our new friends Tanner, Riggs and Doc and their owners/trainers Barb, Linda and Dorida in an Animal Assisted Therapy program that was started here approximately 1½ years ago at our location in Chicago, Illinois. We are a facility for the developmentally disabled.
Tanner, Riggs and Doc do not judge our ladies by their character before meeting them. They do not stare at them when walking down the street and they certainly do not mind when you yell in excitement when you meet them. This exciting program is possible through the wonderful volunteers from Rainbow AAT Incorporated. Rainbow is one of the most prominent and leading animal assisted therapy programs in the Chicago area. They work with many hospitals and services in the metro area such as Children’s Memorial, Rush and Northwestern Hospitals and over 100 other hospitals, schools, residential centers and summer camps. We are fortunate to now be on that grand list who benefit from their visits.
Usually these three friends and their owners from Rainbow visit us the last Saturday of the month. The ladies have an opportunity to have direct contact with the animals. They all really enjoy the experience and the dogs have become a hot topic in the ladies’ conversations the following weeks of the visits.
We have seen almost immediate results when the ladies interact with the dogs. Residents who typically do not speak often are now attempting to talk to the dogs, sometimes in complete sentences. Some with mobility disabilities can pet the dogs in any way they can, holding out a hand or bending down to the dogs level to say “Hi”. Others who are just looking for a companion, found a new friend to laugh with or take a short stroll around the gym. Some who may have been hesitant to even enter our gym, now would not miss a chance to have their visit from their furry friends. Pet Therapy has helped increase our ladies verbal interaction by giving commands to the dogs, improving their fine and gross motor skills through touch and movement and most of all increase their self esteem. The smiles and laughs don’t go away when the dogs leave. There is a lasting impression. Our residents adore the dogs and the tricks that make the ladies cheer and clap over and over. You can come to St. Mary’s on any given day and ask a resident about their visits from Rainbow and you will get an overwhelming response of gratitude and appreciation and even affection. These are some things that these ladies may have not had much of prior to meeting Tanner, Riggs and Doc.
Having the animals visit the ladies not only encourages their rehabilitation, but presents a distraction from usual daily activities and creates something exciting to look forward to. Our staff has even become regular visitors to the gym when they arrive.
It is obvious that all of us here At St. Mary’s whether we are a resident with a developmental disability, a staff person or even a guardian/friend truly benefit from our visits we get from our friends at Rainbow.
Thank you again for all of your hard work and devotion not only to your own dogs but to our ladies as well. We have truly been blesses here in our home at St. Mary’s because of knowing Rainbow and all of its wonderful volunteers.