Volunteers' Voice News for and about the Visiting Pet Program
April 2011 Volume 10, Issue 5

Each morning on my way to work, I tune into the Gayle King show on my magic satellite radio. Gayle always has inspirational words to offer. I listen intently to her with hope she will give me some words of wisdom to get through the day. She does not often disappoint.

Lately, her mantra has been "the best thing you can do for yourself is to do something for someone else with NO strings attached". So true. Her statement brought to mind the wonderful work done by all of you amazing volunteers with the Visiting Pet Program. You give and you give and you give- with no strings attached, no specific reward in mind. You work diligently to prepare your animal in the best possible way to be the greatest therapy animal he can be. Endless hours of training, grooming and expensive medical care are totally on you. All done so that you can simply walk into a medical facility, confident that you have done everything right to be prepare - prepared to share the love of your 4 legged best friend with someone who no longer has the opportunity to indulge in that joy.

Your reward? If you are lucky, it's as simple as a smile. But, it's a smile from someone who had nothing to smile about until you walked into that room. At one particular facility, I have visited with some of the same residents for more than 10 years. One particular lady always makes a point of ending our visit with "thank you for coming. Your visit means so much to me".

Wow! It means so much to her. Food for thought. The inspiration I needed to get out of bed that morning and get to the visit on time. Petting a dog seems like such a little thing, but for many we touch on each visit, "it means so much to me".

When you are straining to pay the vet bill or the groomer or struggling to get to yet another training class, remember that sweet lady's words - "it means so much to me". It really does mean so much to them. And...it's the best thing you can do for yourself.

With thanks for all you do.

Lee Gaffney

P.S. Remember we do not visit over the summer months. Have a fabulous summer and be ready for a great visiting year come September!

Quick Links
Visit Schedule for Spring 2011

To Claire to schedule your visits

To the web site
Visiting Pet Program web site

In This Issue
  • Slovenia's Ambassador of Smile
  • Prince Charming and Daisy Girl Scout Troop

    2011-top dog-top cat

    2011 Top Dog and Top Cat honorees Rebecca Breaud, Marcia Legendre and Barbara Hyland.


    2011 Outstanding Volunteers: Connie Back, Tom Gaffney, Rose Marhay and Joyce Lashley.

    Both 2 and 4 legged Visiting Pet volunteers, their families and friends, and the obligatory ants all joined the fun at our Annual Meeting and Volunteer Appreciation Picnic held in early April. Over 100 volunteers and guests snacked on gourmet sandwiches while enjoying the company of their fellow volunteers. The sun was bright and spirits were high - the perfect day for a picnic!

    In addition to enjoying the companionship of our 2 and 4 legged volunteers, our annual awards were presented. Human volunteers receiving awards for 10 years of dedicated service included: Dawn Hagmann, Delia Hardie and Harold Putfark. Recognition pins for 5 years of service were given to: Barbara Hyland, Rose Marhay, Shirley Walters.

    Recognized for their outstanding service to our organization over the past year, we were proud to announce volunteers Connie Back, Tom Gaffney, Joyce Lashley, Rose Marhay as the 2011 Outstanding Volunteers. We thank them for their tireless devotion to the VPP.

    For service above and beyond, new "Top Dog" and "Top Cat" awards were presented. Given with sincere thanks for all they do to keep the Visiting Pet Program moving forward, special presentations were made to volunteers Marica Legendre, Rebecca Breaud and Barbara Hyland.

    Not to be forgotten, the most important members of our therapy teams were recognized for their years of service. Our 4 legged volunteers receiving service awards included:
    9 Years of Service: Abby (Kim Bradley), Maggy (Brenda Chetta), Thuy (Marcia Legendre), Tammy (Dot McIntyre), and Woody (Ginger Morvant).

    6 Years of Service: Angie (Cindy Goldstein), Bre (Leslie Davis), Emily (Diane Smith), GiGi (Denise Schoen), Hanna (Dawn Hagmann), Sauvi (Stacey Warnke and Terri Joia), Stormy (Dot McIntyre) and tiny Tabitha (Rose Marhay).

    3 Years of Service: Bassy (Ginger Morvant), Chloe (Cathy Burch), Forrest (Claire Sommers), Lexi (Annemarie Fisher), Mita (Malay Hajra), Mozart (Fay Schultz), Murphy (Linda Ferguson), Obie (Marcia Riedel), Prince (Barbara Hyland), Sassy (Donna&Greg West), Shadow (Carolyn Saunders) and Tookie (Nancy Field).

    Congratulations to all our wonderful volunteers. It is a great pleasure to be able to acknowledge the outstanding work that you and your pet do in our community. Wear your new awards proudly! You earned them!

    Slovenia's Ambassador of Smile

    Program Coordinator Claire Sommers with our Slovenian visitor, Tjasa Oblak

    Because of our website the VPP gets quite a few emails from animal assisted activity groups in other states and sometimes other countries. Our most recent international email was from a group in Slovenia "Ambasadorji Nasmeha" translated as "Ambassadors of Smile".

    The Ambassadors of Smile is a young group organized in 2005 and currently has 20 members. Tjasa Oblak with Ambassadors of Smile contacted the VPP in hopes to learn and benefit from our years of experience. In one of her emails Tjasa happened to mention she would be visiting Louisiana in April, so I invited her to the Volunteer Appreciation Picnic. Tjasa enjoyed meeting the members of the VPP and hearing about their visiting experiences. She definitely won the prize for guest who traveled the furthest.

    Prince Charming and Daisy Girl Scout Troop

    The VPP was invited by Rose Coats to present info at a troop meeting. Barbara Hyland and her always willing Prince provided the presentation.

    Rose is a Cadette Girl Scout and is working towards earning her Silver Award. To earn their Silver Awards, Rose's troop is helping lead a Daisy Girl Scout troop. As Daisys, the girls earn "petals" for their knowledge of the Girl Scout Law.

    Rose wanted to incorporate information from the Visiting Pets Program with the earning of the petal associated with "Making the World a Better Place". She wanted the girls to learn that they should not only respect humans but also take care of animals. To do this, she wanted to introduce the girls to how animals can help people.


    was received from
    Fay Schultz
    in memory of
    Mike McWilliam's dog

    A donation
    was received from
    Mina Lea Crais
    in memory of
    Ralph Marchetti.

    was received from
    Linda Ferguson
    in memory of
    Ellen Goldring'sdog
    Lucy Jane.

    A donation
    was received from
    Fay Schultz
    in memory of
    dog of Raymond and Johanna Habisreitinger.

    A donation
    was received from
    Helen Schneidau
    in memory of
    Gayle and Bill Kroeger's cat,

    was received from
    Ellen Goldring
    in memory of
    Boris and Natasha Kroeger.

    was received from
    Ellen Goldring
    in memory of
    Barbara Hyland's dog,

    was received from
    Tamra Carboni.

    was received from
    Joyce Lashley
    in appreciation for
    another successful annual meeting.

    was received from
    Tatjana Pavlovic.

    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 24 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 are interested in participating in any of the Reading to Rover events, please contact Fay Schultz, fibrofay@cox.net. 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 Volunteer Orientation

    Saturday, June 18, 2011
    10am-12 noon
    Sunday, July 17, 2011
    Saturday, October 22, 2011
    Harahan Senior Center
    100 Elodie
    Pre-registration required
    Contact Claire Sommers to register at

    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 conjuction with the STAIR program. Please contact Fay Schultz for upcoming times and locations

    Contact Fay Schultz at
    to confirm your slot at any of these
    Reading To Rover

    VPP member Jill Dolese retired her pet Chance from service to the community. Jill and Chance were regular visitors at Poydras Health Care. Chance joined the VPP in 2003. Our sincere thanks goes to Jill and Chance for bringing love and leaving smiles.

    VPP member Leslie Davis retired her pet Bre from service to the community. Leslie and Bre were regular visitors at John Hainkel Home. Bre joined the VPP in 2004. Our sincere thanks goes to Leslie and Bre for bringing love and leaving smiles.

    Congratuations are extended to the following who have completed training in our Buddy Program: Kim Barrett, Kathleen Caulkins, Kevin Hand, Cindy Nolan and Pam Pearce. We thank you for your volunteer efforts and continued support of the VPP.

    Quick Links...

    Visiting Pet Program Web site

    Monthly Schedules for and Spring 2011

    Help VPP by shopping through IGive

    Shop for great therapy dog books at Dogwise

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