Bring the healing, unconditional love of therapy dogs to those who need it most.
Here's a program guaranteed to touch your heart. Home for Life®, in Star Prairie, Wisconsin, is a very special shelter: a shelter for rescued special-needs animals who have been given a second chance at life.
Now some of those rescued animals who found hope at Home for Life are giving back. Certified for pet therapy, rescued dogs are touching the lives of lonely, fragile, and sometimes forgotten members of society -- cancer patients, the mentally ill, injured soldiers, and residents of nursing homes and hospices.
The Sit*Stay*Heal program provides healing pet therapy to hospital patients and to the terminally ill. This collaborative program began with the Fairview University Hospitals to bring solace and joy to children who are undergoing treatment for cancer. The program has now expanded to serve:
- Adult critical care patients at Fairview University Hospital's cardiac and oncology floors
- Adult and pediatric (ages 4-12) patients at Fairview University Hospital receiving treatment for mental health conditions
- Hospice programs of Aseracare, providing hospice services to the terminally ill
- Soldiers returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts who have suffered multiple, severe injuries and are receiving treatment and rehabilitation at the VA Hospital Polytrauma Unit in Minneapolis. This unit is one of just four such facilities in the entire country caring for severely injured veterans
The program creates and nurtures a special patient-pet bond that can help comfort and heal. Volunteers and certified therapy dogs commit to relationships with specific patients. Together, they consistently visit the same hospital or hospice patient every week. They do this knowing, in some cases, that their patient is dying.
Home for Life® dogs currently participating in the programs have struggled through their own problems and special needs to become shining stars when visiting their friends. Though sometimes boisterous at the sanctuary, they are gentle and sweet when they are with patients -- perhaps recognizing a kinship that crosses the lines of language and species.
You can help. Your donation through this Gift That Gives More™ helps fund a pet therapy visit for a hospital or hospice patient, through Home for Life®'s Sit*Stay*Heal program.
Report from the Field
A Home for Life volunteer recently wrote in to share a heartwarming story with you. This is what she had to say, thanks to your generous donations:
Home for Life's longtime pet therapy volunteer Deb Peterfeso and Dodi, an epileptic Great Dane, frequent Masonic Children's Hospital in Minneapolis to visit the terminally ill and seriously ill small children who often have very lengthy hospital stays-- a circumstance which is terribly hard for the child and family. Many of the children are very tramautized by the hospitalization, treatment, and procedures they must undergo. It's especially hard if they are very young and basically non verbal as this little girl, Addison. Dodi often accompanies the children into the treatment areas to lend comfort and support, as well as distraction during medical procedures. Addison's mother took this photo and said she hadn't seen a smile on the face of her sick little girl in weeks. Addison is very small but hadn't stopped chatting about Dodi and her visit days later. The therapy visits to these very sick kids provides the only bright spot in what can be a very long and frightening hospitalization.
Home For Life® is a sanctuary that provides lifetime care for cats and dogs with special needs who cannot otherwise find homes, but who can still lead quality lives. These animals, including retired service dogs such as seeing eye dogs and K9s, come from across the U.S., from Canada, South Korea, Taiwan, and from many U.S. shelters that cannot find homes for them. In addition, Home for Life® trains many of its animals to give back as certified pet therapists through Pet Peace Corps, which serves hospital and hospice patients, families healing from domestic abuse, and at-risk youth.
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