Volunteers' Voice News for and about the Visiting Pet Program
December 2008 Volume 8, Issue 3

As the holidays approach, we look forward to visiting during this joyful time of year. Feel free to dress your dog or cat for the season. A ruffled collar, Santa hat, or other holiday wear will help your pet celebrate the holidays. The residents and patients will enjoy seeing their little visitors in their holiday outfits!

Our New Pet/Handler Evaluation will be held on Saturday, January 10th at the Harahan Senior Center. The evaluation team is ready for the task. We look forward to the new volunteers and pets that will be entering the training/probationary phase. The training workshop for pets and handlers that pass the evaluation will be held on Saturday, January 17.

The January-May, 2009 schedule is now on the website. Please note that due to Mardi Gras parades, holidays, and special events, such as the VPP Annual Picnic, visit dates for many facilities have been changed. Be sure to consult the schedule for your visiting dates! We will be off for the summer, taking a well deserved rest, and will resume visits in the fall.

Thank you for your continued commitment to the VPP. Have a wonderful winter-spring visiting season.

Program Coordinator

Quick Links
Visit Schedule for Spring 2009

To Joyce to schedule your visits

To the web site
Visiting Pet Program web site

In This Issue
  • Reading to Rover Needs You
  • Safety Reminders for Your Pet During the Holidays
  • I Rescued A Human Today

  • Reading to Rover Needs You

    Tammy listens intently as a young reader shares a story at a recent Reading to Rover event. Handler Dot McIntyre looks on.

    Often we hear from new recruits "I really want to work with children." There is no better opportunity to do just that than by participating in one of our Reading to Rover events.

    Reading to Rover was originally created in June, 2000, as a literacy project to help improve the reading out loud skills of beginning readers. Reading out loud to the non-judgmental therapy dogs helps build a poor reader's confidence and improves overall reading skills. These events are wonderful opportunities to share the unconditional love of the dogs with children who have reading problems or who may not have a pet of their own.

    Our goal in developing the program was, of course, to improve literacy. In addition to meeting that goal, there have been two unexpected, but exciting, outcomes from the RTR experience. First, the dogs absolutely LOVE participating. They can't get enough of the kids and their overwhelming snuggles. And there's the treat that follows each book, certainly an added bonus in the eyes of the dogs. The other bonus? Humane Education. Many of the youngsters we meet have never been around friendly, affectionate, well behaved, calm dogs. Some of the children are initially fearful, but with a little patience and education about how to introduce themselves and behave around the dog, the kids quickly become eager participants.

    When asked about the outcomes of the Reading to Rover program, Andrea Heingarten, Children's Librarian at the East Bank Regional Library, noted "Reading to Rover is a wonderful program that promotes literacy in a fun way. It gives the children a great opportunity to practice their reading skills in a non-school setting, without having to worry about reading incorrectly. Reading to Rover is one of our most popular programs. We have as many as 15 children show up to read to the dogs. Most of them make it a point to read to each dog that attends; some even wait until specific dogs become available on the waiting list. The kids, parents, library staff, handlers, and dogs all seem to enjoy it a great deal."

    Reading to Rover events are held monthly on both sides of the river. On the East Bank, RTR is held on the third Tuesday of each month at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon in Metairie from 6:30pm-7:30pm. On the West Bank, the Harvey Library 2751 Manhattan Blvd., hosts RTR on the second Sunday of each month from 2:00pm-3:00pm. Special events with the STAIR program (Start Adventures in Reading) and Literacy Nights at area schools are also frequently on our agenda.

    Volunteers are always needed at these events. Both library locations have a loyal following of readers who don't like to wait for a turn to read. The more dogs the better! There are always plenty of kids and books to go around. If you've ever thought you might like to participate, now is the time to do it. No special skills are needed. The seasoned volunteers will guide you through your first RTR experience. There is no monthly obligation, just go when you can. Confirm your spot with our Reading to Rover Coordinator, Fay Schultz at 835-9571 or fibrofay@cox.net.

    Put a Reading to Rover event on your schedule now! You and your dog will be glad you did.

    Lee Gaffney

    Safety Reminders for Your Pet During the Holidays
    Sago Palm

    Don't feed pets turkey/ roasts/ ham or their gravy/drippings. Human food is too rich and can cause health problems. Rich, fatty foods, like gravy or grease, can cause problems ranging from stomach upsets to inflammation of the pancreas resulting in vomiting, and dehydration. Dogs with this serious condition often require hospitalization for treatment.

    Please, please don't feed your pets bones, especially any bones from the turkey carcass. Poultry bones splinter easily, form sharp points and lodge in the throat, gums or the roof of the mouth, causing real problems, including infection. Chocolate contains a substance called methylxanthines. Problems from eating chocolate range from vomiting/diarrhea to abnormal heart rhythm, seizures and death. Unsweetened baking chocolate and dark chocolate are the worst culprits, but all chocolate, fudge, and other candy should be placed out of your dog's reach.

    If your pets eat uncooked yeast dough it can expand and produce gas in the digestive system, causing pain and possible intestinal blockage or rupture. Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs. Ingestion may result in macadamia nut toxicosis. Vomiting and hyperthermia are initial symptoms with progression to ataxia or hind-limb paresis within 12 hours of ingestion. Artificial sweeteners; If dogs eat products sweetened with xylitol it can result in a a dramatic drop in blood sugar, and they usually begin vomiting, become lethargic and can have difficulty standing or walking. Some have seizures, develop internal hemorrhaging and lesions and suffer liver failure.

    Amaryllis ingestion can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia and tremors. Lilies are commonly found in holiday flower arrangements and can be deadly to your cat. Many types of lily, including Tiger, Easter, and Stargazer, can cause kidney failure in cats when ingested. Mistletoe ingestion usually only causes gastrointestinal upset. But it also has the potential to cause cardiovascular problems. Holly ingestion can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and lethargy. Poinsettia are not toxic, but ingestion can be irritating to the mouth and stomach, and may cause mild vomiting or nausea.

    Make sure your Christmas tree is in a stable stand, and you might want to anchor the tree securely to a window or wall with heavy cord or fish line. Climbing cats or active dogs can easily cause a tree to fall over. Make sure your cat or dog is always supervised when in a room with a tree. The preservatives used in Christmas trees are often sugar-based (and inviting to cats and dogs). The stagnant water in a tree stand can contain harmful bacteria. In addition fertilizers, insecticides, and flame retardants that may have been used on the tree can leech into the water. Cover the tree stand base with a screen and tree skirt to block your pet from drinking the water.
    ***** If you suspect that your pet has eaten something toxic, call your veterinarian and/or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center's 24-hour emergency hotline at 1-888-426-4435.

    Tinsel, ribbons, yarn, and string can cause intestinal obstruction and bunching of the intestine along the length of the string. These conditions require surgery and can be fatal. Decorations/Ornaments; keep glass ornaments out of reach. To a playful cat or dog they look like toys and can end up in a million pieces, cutting your pet's mouth or paws. Lights; chewing on electrical cord and light cords can cause problems ranging from burned mouths, to electrical shock to death. Unplug decorative lights/extension cords when you are not there to supervise. Potpourri; contains both essential oils and cationic detergents that can irritate the gums and intestinal tract. Skin exposure can result in pain, redness, swelling and ulcers. Pets can also develop vomiting, breathing problems, low blood pressure or weakness.

    Your pet might not be used to guests and your guest might not be used to pets. Frequently pets are creatures of habit and don't appreciate having their schedule changed or having strangers in their house. If other people and all of the holiday commotion stress your pet be sure to provide them with a quiet private area to rest and relax. If your guests are not pet people, You need to be vigilant about open doors and gates. People that are not pet savvy will not understand the importance of closed doors/gates and your pet could easily slip out during all of the commotion. On this note, make sure your pet is Always wearing its collar and a current ID tag. Make an extra effort to spend time with your pet and maintain their daily schedule. Be sure to feed and exercise your pet on their regular schedule.

    And then there is New Year's Eve
    Be very, very careful during firework displays. Please, please, please keep your pets indoors during fireworks and make sure doors/windows are not left open. The sudden loud noises and flashing colors can cause your pet to run away in terror. A carelessly thrown firecracker or other firework could result in a terrible injuries or death.

    These are just a few things to consider during the holidays. Keeping your pet safe during the holidays is really a common sense thing. Consider your pet's age, temperament and level of activity. With a little luck, some careful planning and thoughtful consideration your holiday will not include a trip to the emergency vet.

    Claire Sommers

    I Rescued A Human Today


    Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels.

    I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.

    I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid.

    As she stopped at my kennel

    I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage.

    I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today.

    Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.

    As she read my kennel card

    I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past.

    I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life.

    She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me.

    I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her.

    Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship.

    A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.

    Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.

    I would promise to keep her safe.

    I would promise to always be by her side.

    I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.

    I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor.

    So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors.

    So many more to be saved.

    At least I could save one.

    I rescued a human today.

    Author Unknown


    A donation
    was received from
    Allison Ewing

    A donation was given by
    Bill & Fay Schultz
    in memory of
    Mary Berkowicz

    Donations were received
    in loving memory of
    Dorlene Alaynick's beloved
    Claire Sommers
    Lori Haeuser

    A donation
    was received from
    Ellen Goldring
    Gayle Kroeger
    Linda Ferguson
    in memory of
    Meredith Labouisse

    A donation was received from
    Dot McIntyre

    A donation was made by
    Helen Schneidau
    in memory of
    Marcia Legendre's cat

    A donation was received from
    Mina Lea Crais
    in memory of
    beloved dog of
    Mr. & Mrs. A.J. Chauvin

    About the Visiting Pet Program

    The Visiting Pet Program is an all volunteer 501 (C)(3) non-profit animal assisted therapy organization serving Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes.

    For the past 22 years, the volunteers of the VPP have lived up to their motto of "Bringing Love and Leaving Smiles" to the residents of nursing homes and hospitals.

    Our literacy project, Reading to Rover, offers young readers the opportunity to practice their reading aloud skills to the gentle therapy dogs.

    If you would like to make a donation to the Visiting Pet Program, please click on the button below or mail your check to 5831 S. Johnson Street, New Orleans, LA 70125. Please note if your donation is in memory of a person or a pet. We will be happy to send an acknowledgment of your donation to the family. Please include the name and address to send the acknowledgment. Because we are a 501(C)(3) organization, your donation is tax deductible. We are an all volunteer organization. Your donation goes directly to the support of our mission.
    Thank you

    Take Note!

    New Pet/Handler Evaluation

    Saturday, January 10th
    Harahan Senior Center
    100 Elodie
    Pre-registration required
    Contact Joyce Kleinfeldt if you would like to have an additional pet tested

    Recertification Workshop
    New Pet/Handler Workshop

    January 17th
    2pm - 4pm
    Harahan Senior Center Remember that every volunteer MUST be recertified every 2 years. Contact Rebecca Breaud to attend 985-796-1988 or rbreaud@bellsouth.net

    VPP Annual Meeting and Family Picnic

    Mark your calendar now
    and plan to bring the whole family to the VPP picnic.
    Sunday, March 22nd
    Soniat Playground

    Reading To Rover

    On the East Bank
    Held on the third Tuesday of each month
    at the East Bank Regional Library
    4747 W. Napoleon in Metairie

    On the West Bank
    Held on the second Sunday of each month
    2751 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey
    from 2:00pm-3:00pm

    Events are now being planned in conjunction with the STAIR program. Please contact Fay for upcoming times and locations

    Contact Fay Schultz
    or 504-835-9571
    to confirm your slot at any of these
    Reading To Rover


    to Dorlene Alaynick,
    who lost her beloved Australian Shepherd,
    in October. Rusty had been a visiting pet since June, 1999, and was a regular visitor at Touro Infirmary. Rusty will be deeply missed by all who knew him. Our deepest sympathies to Dorlene on the loss of her boy.

    Quick Links...

    Visiting Pet Program Web site

    Monthly Schedules for Spring 2009

    Help VPP by shopping through IGive

    Shop for great therapy dog books at Dogwise

    phone: 504-866-2532 Fax: 504-866-9823

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