Meet The Pet Therapy Team

Hi, I’m Joe Newton. I am a chaplain with angels grace hospice also, uh, have the joy of being a pet therapist, I guess you would call me. Uh, we have two dogs now that are part of our family here at angels grace. This guy’s name is Mizuno. He’s an old English sheepdog. He’s going on 10 years of age and this little bundle, bottom, little of energy. Her name is Grace. Gracey is a, Bernedoodle a Burmese mountain dog, poodle mix. And we’re trying to get her ready for this thing called pet therapy. The first time I did it with Mizuno, I actually trained for probably close to almost two years. Uh, Mizuno was not that he was stubborn or anything. I just wanted to make sure. And he was probably around three or four the first time that we went through it, uh, the training and he, uh, I walked in there with all kinds of nerves and he was just incredible, as far as his ability. Uh, he knew what would to do without me even having to try and tell him what to do and where to go. That’s where I’m looking to find with Grace as well. She, uh, responds well. She loves people. I think she’ll do exceptionally well as time goes on. People ask me all the time, what it means for what is a therapy dog. They hear a lot of dogs that are, they call comfort dogs. Then you have the dogs that are service dogs, most common ones that we know are the ones who help the blind. He is a comfort dog, and you’ve heard stories of them, who take dogs, like, to areas where there have been significant tragedy, whether it’s been a hurricane, or tornado, uh, mass shooting, that type of thing. And they are there to be a presence. And that’s what a therapy dog is, is a presence.

I’ll never forget. The time we went into a facility, the memory care area, this lady comes running from the back of the, the, where the rooms were it’s up to, where we were at the front desk. And then she just literally ran, literally ran and she got down on the floor with him, petting him, talking to him. “Awe, You’re such a beautiful baby dog. You’re just wonderful, blah, blah, blah.” And I’m standing there and there’s one of the employees, one of the aides there, and she’s dumbstruck. She’s like “What’s happening here?” That woman hadn’t been speaking real words for a long time until Mizuno came in and she saw him and started remembering from her past of how to handle a dog and how she would be with dogs. And it was an incredible experience. I mean, those are type of things that, you know, it’s hard to explain what we do. You have to watch, you have to see it in action.