My Volunteer Story: Love of Dogs, People Leads to Calling in Touch Therapy
Shelley Newman and her dog Petie visit nursing homes and hospitals to bring comfort to people through touch therapy.
Shelley Newman, of St. Peters, volunteers with her dog Petie with Support Dogs, an organization based in Maryland Heights that trains skilled assistance dogs and offers pet visitation therapy programs.
Newman and Petie are a part of the touch therapy program. They visit hospitals, nursing homes and other places where residents might enjoy a visit from a well-trained dog.
"It's therapy for me when I go too," Newman said.
She said often clients who are at a mental health hospital are nearly in tears when the touch-therapy volunteers show up. Some clients tell her they had dogs named Petie or talk about their pets at home.
"They are so excited to get to see a dog," she said. "You just see their whole face light up. ... Many times they tell us, 'You just totally made my day."
In addition, Newman helped start a dog-walking program with her work, Safety National, which is located in Maryland Heights, close to Support Dogs. A group of employees from Safety National head to Support Dogs on their lunch hour to walk the dogs that are in training to become support dogs for people with hearing disorders or veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"What's awesome about that is, I'm giving this dog exercise and attention for a dog that's going to literally change somebody's life, literally," she said. "When you see the placement of the dog with the client, there's nothing that compares to it."
To learn more about volunteering with Support Dogs, head here.
My Volunteer Story is a partnership between the St. Charles Community Council and Patch.com to collect and share stories from local volunteers about the impact that volunteering has had on their lives. If you'd like to share your story, stop by the volunteer fair at Spencer Library Branch Sept. 15 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Email Kalen Ponche at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time to stop by and record your thoughts on volunteering.
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