Imagine that you’re facing dialysis or chemotherapy sessions, sitting in a room full of others in the same situation. Chances are you’re not feeling great to begin with and often boredom sets in as the minutes tick by like hours. Then, in comes a big, goofy dog!?! Certainly this is a mistake. Did someone take a wrong turn? No, it’s likely a Pet Therapy Animal and human teammate. In this case, my dog Hunka, Hunka Burning Love aka Hunka and I have the privilege of visiting our local hospital weekly to visit with those who welcome a distraction, some interaction (canine, human or both) and a brief respite from their current situation.
Not long ago, as Hunka and I were leaving the hospital (http://www.bozemandeaconess.org/) after one of our visits a gentleman burdened with a lot of photographic equipment opened the door for us. As is often the case, he stopped to pet & visit with Hunka. Since Hunka and I were dressed in our “volunteer drag” he knew something was up.
As I explained to him our purpose as an Intermountain Therapy Team (ITA) (www.therapyanimals.org) he handed me his card and asked that I call him so that he could follow us on our rounds one day. Stalker you might ask! No, he is the anchor of the NBC Nightly news (http://www.ktvm.com) in Bozeman, Jonathan Athens.
A few weeks later we met at the hospital and, after almost two hours of video and a number of waivers signed by staff and patients alike, the filming was done. Another several hours of editing resulted in a sweet story I like to call “Hunka at the Hospital.” Check out Hunka here
There are so many people to thank for us being able to have the privilege of working as we do as a team. Nancy Rosen, state coordinator of ITA, hospital employees Connie Martin, Jennifer Perigen, Gale Farnsworth-Smith, and Jena Silverness (also an ITA volunteer with her dog Lucy Lui). I also want to thank Jonathan for taking the time to learn more about these incredible animals and their human teammates. It is a privilege for us to work with our animals and to be welcomed into the lives of others in their time of need.