Therapy Animal Team – In Depth: Debbie and Bella
Bella came to me because my daughter thought I needed a new puppy. My older black lab had passed a few months before. A nice young man had discovered a tiny puppy – less than 3 pounds. When I saw her, it was love at first sight. She snuggled under my chin and I knew she was right for me. She was a perfect puppy, very smart and so easy to house break.
I discovered Pet Partners a few months after Bella turned a year old. I thought this would be a perfect fit for me as I had just retired from school. We evaluated a few months later and passed the first time.
We started our visits at an elementary school near my house, where I worked before retirement. I knew the principal and several of the teachers. We began visiting in the resource class, helping the students with reading. We would sit in the back of the room on a rug and the students would come to us, one or two at a time to practice their reading. It was a wonderful experience for the students. It was a great way Bella and I to begin making Therapy Animal visits. We still visit on Wednesdays.
Next, I heard of a Memory Center at Mt. Carmel Assisted Home. We went to explore this as a possibility and now Bella loves her little ladies. She lays or sits next to them and they talk to her, the ladies enjoy Bella’s attention. We continue to visit there once a month.
Then we received an invitation to visit Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Bella has so much love to share will all the children. She really enjoys getting on the bed to visit with the children. She lays by their side and is very still and lets them hug on her. We visit Children’s Hospital 3 times a month.
Our next opportunities were at Encare Hospital and Saline Hospital. We really enjoy visiting with all the staff. They will stop what they are doing and love on Bella for a few minutes, then we move on They are always happy to see us.
Over time, I have learned that Bella likes to visit with small groups or better yet, one at a time. She also prefers quiet settings. She has a fear of big dogs because as a puppy she was bit on the face by a big dog and therefore doesn’t trust them.
Bella and I are besties. She is the perfect dog for me.