2013 Planetree Animal Therapy Award Recipients

Planetree Animal Therapy Teams of the Year

Jack of Bayhealth Medical Center

Jack’s Story:

When thinking about patient-centered care there is no one who does it better than Jack.  Jack is the therapy dog who has been “working” at the Outpatient Rehabilitation Center at Kent General Hospital every Tuesday and Thursday. Jack is loved by both patients and their caregivers. Jack has made an impression on patient’s who come to therapy on Tuesdays and Thursdays and ask “Where’s Jack?” He has learned the building floor plan and knows where to go and visit the patients who are in therapy and then returns to the side of his “mother,” Kayleigh Karnbach who is the PT/OT Aide and Registrar.  Most of the time he will stay with Kayleigh or with another staff member, but at other times he will go off on his own and you will see him going from each therapy area to the next accepting a pat on the head, a belly rub, or even a treat.

Jack has proved to be an excellent addition to the speech pathology department as he has started to participate in actual therapy treatments.  He participates with pediatric therapy patients and has proved to be an excellent addition. He has helped some patients to progress in feeding and speech activities.  It is much more fun for the child to talk to Jack and use words to tell him to “Get the ball” or “Drop the ball” instead of just looking at pictures.  Jack has helped a patient with a feeding disorder by allowing the child to feed him treats so both Jack and the patient is having a snack.  Jack provided comfort to the young patients by just being in the therapy room and lying next to the child during therapy.

The beauty of having Jack in the center is not only for the patients, but also for the staff.  I find myself happy to know that on Tuesday and Thursday I know that Jack will be in the office and that he will come to visit me in my office.  We all know that having a pet can boost your “feelings” and emotions and it sure is true.  He loves to greet you and be with you no matter what, he can turn a bad day into a not so bad day with just a look.  When thinking about patient centered care and the philosophy of healing via the mind, body and spirit Jack seems to really be helping in all the Planetree attributes for the patients but also the staff.

Jack is always helping to improve patient moods throughout the day, as well as staff.  He is very excited to meet and greet patients of all ages!  Always ready to greet every patient that walks through the door with an exceptionally warm welcome.  Jack has an amazing ability to put people at ease.

Aki of Centre de readaptation Estrie

Aki’s story:

For the past four years, Aki has been eliciting exclamations of delight from children with language disorders who are being referred to the Centre de réadaptation Estrie by first-line establishments.

The Labernese is a wonderful ice breaker. When Aki steps into a room in which a group of 4 years old is undergoing speech therapy, we can observe a complete change in the group’s dynamic. Aki focuses the children’s attention and provides support by its mere presence. It interacts with children in speech therapy workshops to help them meet specific language-related objectives. Developed in collaboration with Mira, the therapeutic activities are designed to prepare children for preschool.

Aki’s presence is calming and reassuring for children already faced with serious challenges in their young lives. Communicating with their family and friends generally requires huge efforts. With Aki, they are given an opportunity to explore communication skills without any fear of judgment. Inevitably, this increases their self-esteem. The sessions also build self-confidence as children often observe that they possess skills that Aki does not have, a phenomenon they rarely experience with the people with whom they interact daily.

The children’s development is facilitated by the fact that working with Aki feels like play and not some form of assessment. We observe that the effects are real, the participation rate is higher, and the children’s efforts are increased tenfold. Rather than look for approval from the adults, the children simply want to be understood by their innovative interlocutor.

Several therapeutic elements are based on Aki’s presence. For example, the Labernese is a choice conversation topic and speech therapists include various canine-related subjects into the sessions. The children learn how to care for their four-legged caseworker and they even celebrate its birthday.

On a psychological and emotional level, the children become attached to Aki as the Labernese becomes an important source of motivation. They are keen to attend the sessions and are not so distressed at leaving their parents because they are thrilled at the prospect of spending quality time with the dog. Aki is providing its service throughout most of the year in therapeutic sessions offered weekly to 48 children divided into six groups. In May and June, another 18 children, also divided into groups, have the opportunity to meet with Aki weekly.

As a faithful and attentive friend, Aki is helping children build their self-esteem and ease their school debut.


Planetree Animal Therapy Winners