Over the years I have involved myself in various volunteer opportunities: SCORE (Senior Corps of Retired Executives) an arm of the SBA; Big Brothers/Big Sisters Lunch Buddy Program; On Borrowed Time a Readers Theater (a breast cancer survivors group of artists); and Special Olympics. I got involved in the therapy dog process through a couple of different venues. First of all, as a Cancer Survivor I was working with the University of Iowa Cancer Center to bring a group of performers that I was a part of in New Mexico to Iowa for the 2008 Conference. That did not work, but I made some contacts and it planted a seed for me to begin doing therapy work. I had recently retired and moved back to Iowa from New Mexico, so I had time on my hands and wanted to do something useful with that time. I feel that I have been very fortunate in my life and I would like to give back to the community in some way as a kind of payback. I love my dogs and think it would be selfish of me to keep them to myself.
I met Sadie for the first time when she was about 1 week old and living with her mother and litter mates at the Heart & Soul Animal Sanctuary in Galisteo, New Mexico in April 2004. She had traveled with her mother from Las Cruces, NM where they were going to put her mother down – before delivery; and Sadie was born on her way to Santa Fe. She is 5 years old and began her training to be a therapy dog when we moved to Iowa in 2006. Prior to that training we did some training at the College of Santa Fe. We trained at Spot & Company in Iowa City and also tested there for Delta Certification in 2008. Sadie loves working with the children at Mark Twain Elementary School in Iowa City.
When Sadie first came to live with me I also had an older Standard Poodle by the name of Greta Garbo. Sadie loved Greta and when I had to have Greta put down, Sadie was beside herself with grief – enter Garbo, Sadie loves Poodles.
I found Garbo through Pet Finders because I was looking for another Standard Poodle for Sadie. Garbo came from a foster group in Hudson, Iowa and immediately bonded with Sadie. They were best friends. Garbo started life in a puppy mill and although I don’t know all the history of what happened to her during her first 10 months of life, she is a wonderful and very sweet dog. As soon as I got her we signed up at Spot & Company and of course Sue thought Garbo would make a great therapy dog too. I got Garbo in October and the three of us tested for Delta Certification the following April. The three of us did therapy work until Garbo passed in 2016 – enter Gilda, stay tuned.
Sadie is a rescue from Heart & Soul in New Mexico. She and Sara met in 2004 and it was love at first sight.
Sadie visits Van Allen Elementary is North Liberty Iowa and loves everyone. She is part of the Reading Education Assistance Dogs program at Van Allen and many of the students there have been able to improve their reading skills with the help of Sadie.
What’s Sadie’s favorite treat and favorite toy? She loves dental chews and hot dogs.
What do you like most about helping people through TDJC? I like the look on their face when Sadie cuddles up to them, and the look on Sadie’s face as well.
What’s the best story you have about one of your visits? We visited a patient in Hospice and he was very near the end of life, but when Sadie cuddled up to him he got this very peaceful smile and just laid there with his arm around her.