Therapy Dog Spotlight
Without our volunteers, Chenny Troupe and its work would not be possible. Take the time to meet some of our canine volunteers!
Gemma and Kali
We are Doberman Pinschers who live together, play together and work together at Swedish Covenant Hospital. In fact, some people think they are seeing double when we come in! We work with patients who have had an accident or surgery: helping them to regain balance, strength and energy by tirelessly retrieving balls on command. We love to jump through hoops and over hurdles when we play "circus dog". We also try to teach them hand signals to improve range of motion. They are delighted with our stamina and enthusiasm, and we are delighted by their progress, their smiles and their praise! We are individuals though! Check out our stats below!
- Doberman Pinscher, 8 yrs old
- Volunteer for 5 yrs, 4 yrs at Lincoln Park Hospital, 10 months at Swedish Covenant
- Things learned from humans (actually, what I taught humans): You can't judge a book by its cover. I
may be perceived as scary, but I am very loving and sweet.
- Favorite trick: Jumping over hurdles as high as possible.
- Doberman Pinscher, 6 yrs old
- Volunteer for 1 yr, 2 months at Lincoln Park Hospital, 10 months at Swedish Covenant
- Things learned from humans: Treat people the way you want to be treated, and they will respond.
- Favorite trick: Verbal and hand signal commands for a carrot.
photo courtesy of Barb Levant - thank you!
- This is my first year - I was certified in October
2006. On my first try, I might add. I don't know why that's important,
but that's what my mom keeps telling people.
- I am a Bernese Mountain Dog, born 4/2/2005 (I'm almost 2, even
though mommy keeps calling me a puppy)
- Programs where I have volunteered: Rice residential facility in Evanston. Man those kids are cute. And they pet me a lot.
- Things that I have learned from humans. Be nice and share your toys. If you act really adorable, humans will give you lots of treats. And if you
poop 5 times on a walk, those silly people will actually pick it up
Favorite trick: There are 2 kinds of tricks: the kind that my mom and
dad taught me that I perform like a circus monkey (I give "high fives"
and I play dead if someone goes "bang"), and there are the tricks that I
get my mom and dad to do, like when I pretend I'm a starving, neglected,
abandoned dog who hasn't eaten for 625 days and they feed me extra
treats because they believe me. Or that trick where I bark once to go
outside, and they get up and let me play in the yard. Then I bark once
to come inside, and they get up and let me back in. Then I bark once
again to go outside again, etc. etc. Sometimes I can get them to do this
6 or 7 times during one movie! And my very favorite trick is where I
look soulfully at daddy while he's on the couch, and I make him get on
the floor with me and rub my tummy for an hour or two while we watch the
Dog Whisperer or Animal Planet.
On Monday nights, when I see my blue Chenny Troupe vest, I know it's time to go to Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital! After all, for 5 years, I have been helping people reach higher, stretch farther and walk straighter, and a dog remembers these important things. I am proud to be a part of Chenny Troupe because our teams understand how hard it is to heal after an accident or surgery and how important it is to try and make that hard work a bit more fun. We are so lucky to be ablt to touch so many people's lives, even if it's for just a little while...and we DO make a difference!
I'm an Australian Shepard-Labrador Retriever mix, which means I am really smart and very devoted to people. I work with children who have problems at home and come to the Rice Center to get the special attention they need to get better. Sometimes the kids are afraid because they had a bad experience with a dog in the past. But they quickly learn that I would never hurt them. They begin to trust me and tell me secrets that I keep for them. Soon the kids begin to trust people a bit more and can talk about the things that upset them. I am so proud that I help these kids believe that they can have love and happiness in their lives.
At the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the people I work with are recovering from strokes, head trauma, spinal-cord injuries and other terrible accidents. Some of them don't use their voices very well and some have trouble moving their arms. Sometimes, one of the clients will brush me - carefully - because my hair is very curly! The client will have to grasp the brush and move their arm repetitively. It may seem like an easy task, but it's not if you've had a stroke. Curling your hand around an object to pick it up, hold it and use it can be a real challenge. But once accomplished, they can work with other things that will help them become more independent and get home faster...and I go home looking fabulous - it's a win-win situation for us!
I'm a Belgian sheepdog, so I keep a careful watch over the people in my program at Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital, including my roommate Kobi, who is also a Chenny Troupe dog. Those natural instincts help make me a good therapy dog, but I also have to be obedient, responding to verbal commends and hand signals without hesitation, even if my client speaks in a slurred voice or can't move his arms well. I have to run through tunnels, jump hoops, catch balls and stop and sit on a moment's notice, even if the other dogs are still fetching all around me. I must take treats gently from and injured hand and NEVER jump up onto a client, because the people I work with can be very fragile. It's an important job, but I can handle it!
I'm a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, so I was born to work hard. That's why I love my work at Somerset Place, helping adults with emotional challenges feel better about themselves, learn new skills and make new friends. It is hard for them to stay focused sometimes, but I follow the residents' commands, doing agility work and practicing special tricks. They are often surprised at how well I listen and respond to them, it encourages them to keep trying. I'm licking my lips just thinking about all the treats I'll get as a reward!
Have you ever heard of an Italian Spinone? It is hard to pronounce, but the little kids at Advocate Lutheran General Childrenís Hospital have even bigger challenges. They are autistic; some canít talk at all, but that doesnít matter to me. I sit very still while they touch my soft coat or point to my ears or my tail when they are asked by a therapist. I can jump over hurdles, even if I have a little trouble understanding them when they ask, because my human companion gives me a hand signal as a clue (the kids donít know the clues yet). They try hard to communicate and my tricks are the motivation! You should hear the laughter Ė it just makes my day!
Iím a Cairn terrier, the ONLY terrier in Chenny Troupe. That makes me one of a kind, just like the kids at La Rabida Childrenís Hospital. The children have many challenges: some are autistic, others have cerebral palsy or Down syndrome, others were hurt in very serious accidents. But they all have one thing in common: they love to learn and play games, just like me! We play games where we match the picture to the dog, or we work an agility course where I jump hurdles, run through a tunnel, stop on a special spot and do figure eightsÖ but only if they tell me in a loud voice or with a big hand signal. These kids face their challenges with terrier-like determination and the desire to be the best that they can be. I help them by providing the motivation to keep trying. Who could ask for more than that?
I have an incredible new job a Haymarket Center . As a 7 year veteran of Chenny Troupe, Iíve worked in all kinds of programs, but now I work with women who are in a substance abuse recovery program. They are new moms who are at Haymarket to get off drugs and learn to care for themselves and their babies. We help them learn to be patient with us, because, like babies, we donít always understand what they are asking. We help them control their anger by showing them that if they are calm and gentle with us, we are more likely to do what they want than if they yell or get cross. Our goal is for the women to use those same skills with their children and with other challenges in their live. Know what? They get it and itís just awesome!