The BU Boxers of the Month:
AS DELTA "PET PARTNERS"
The Delta Society was formed in
1977 and is made up of pet owners, volunteers, therapists, educators, health
professionals, veterinarians, and other professionals. Their mission is to promote the use
of animals in helping people to improve their health, independence, and quality of life.
In 1990, the "Pet Partner" program was established as a part of the Delta
Society, in response to those volunteers who wanted to be able to take their pets to visit
people. Many human service providers were concerned that both the people and their pets be
well trained and health-screened before being allowed to participate in visiting-animal
programs. The Delta Society publishes a self-teaching manual and video for would-be
visitors (Pet Partners), and upon the completion of this course, the "partners"
may schedule an appointment with a certified Delta evaluator. In order to be able to
register as Pet Partners, the team of animal and owner must:
- Pass a health screening by a
- Pass a skills test, administered
by the evaluator and helpers
- Pass an aptitude test,
administered by the evaluator and helpers. Additionally, the human half of this team must
pass an open-book test, to let the evaluator know that he/she is knowledgeable about the
entire program and its guidelines.
Upon satisfaction of all these
requirements, the applicant submits the paperwork (veterinarian's completed form, copies
of evaluations, pictures of human/animal team, and the required fee) to the Delta Society
for review. Usually, in about 6 - 8 weeks, the teams are sent their badges and can begin
Many areas of the country have
local therapy animal groups, which offer support, as well as monthly meetings, public
relations events and such. The toll-free Delta phone number will offer answers to those
who have further concerns or wishes regarding the Pet Partner program. It is 1-800-809-2714.
Their e-mail address is DELTASOCIETY@CIS.COMPUSERVE.COM
Well trained and socialized
Boxers make WONDERFUL therapy animals!!! Our two Boxers,
5 3/4 year-old
Fanci and 3 year-old Trudi (pictured here), have been registered Pet Partners for 2 1/2
and 1 3/4 years, respectively. Together and separately, they make approximately 20
hour-plus visits per month to various local nursing homes, adult day care facilities,
childrens' shelters, and the hospital. They are good at what they do, and they each have
their individual "specialty"! Fanci, the older of the two, adores children of
all ages - she automatically visits in all the situations where there are to be children.
She can pick out a child who needs special attention or just a loving head in a lap, and
she manages to leave a lump in the throats of a good many who witness her brand of caring.
Trudi, our youngster, feels most comfortable visiting the "oldsters." Therefore,
she is a regular at all the nursing homes, geriatric wards of the hospital, and adult day
care centers. Most people know Trudi by name and love doing practice/rehab walking (in
walkers and wheelchairs) with her in the halls, as well as spoiling her with special
tidbits they've saved for her.
The love our "girls"
share with both the children and the older people they visit is wonderful to behold.
However, we also like to cheer people up - to bring some humor into their lives. During
the month of October, all of our visitations (with the exception of the childrens'
shelter) were done in costume. Fanci and Trudi own a wardrobe of costumes including a
clown, witch, devil, football player, cheerleader, guitar-player, and a pair of convicts.
They amused the staffs, the clients, and the patients in the various facilities they
visited. We live near the University of Arkansas, and the girls also have a getup which
includes athletic tee shirts and "hog noses" (for the Razorback sports teams);
the men, in particular, LOVE these outfits! During the month of December, they appeared as
Ms. Santa and one of her elves, and had everyone chuckling. Do the dogs appear to object
to these costumes? At home, they definitely would. For visitations, however, they seem to
feel that it's all part of the job, and they take their job very seriously!
In addition to our regular
visitations, we also do some educational programs in the local schools. There, we tell the
children about the Pet Partner program, discuss general pet care, and do a small talk on
bite prevention. These programs have proven to be quite popular with both students and
Throughout my 45+ years with
Boxers, I have participated in various away-from-home activities with them. We have done
obedience work and put CDs on our Boxers, and have participated in agility work. Nothing I
have ever done with them can compare with the satisfaction we all derive from our
participation in the Pet Partners program.
And yes, both of these girls
eat the same basic home-cooked diet as Karla Spitzer's and Dale Ulmer's Boxers!!