Good Matters™ Blog

Posted on August 1st, 2012

Giving Back to the Community: Love on the Road to Recovery

“I’m always so amazed at the joy my dog brings to other people”

Heather Taylor and her dog “Homer” touch lives in a meaningful way. Working together as a therapy team, they deliver the gift of compassion to the confines of a hospital room.

“I love sharing and giving. And Homer, well, he’s a superstar.”

Three days each month, Heather grooms her boxer, straps on his vest and volunteers for a couple of hours at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center in the Denver area. Her 6-year-old dog is a natural for therapy work. After careful training at the Human-Animal Bond in Colorado (HABIC), Heather and Homer are now qualified to approach even the most sensitive patients.

“We visit up to 20 hospital rooms each session. From children in the pediatric unit to adults recovering from surgery, Homer loves making them all smile. Their faces just light up when he arrives. It’s hard to describe how emotionally uplifting the experience can be.”

Many patients are happy just to see Homer. Others want to spend more time touching and playing with him. If treatment forbids physical contact with the dog, Heather offers bubbles.

“Patients will blow bubbles and Homer playfully nips at each one. It’s a creative form of touching.”

One of the team’s most memorable moments involved an infant cancer patient who delighted in Homer’s presence but couldn’t touch him for months due to treatment restrictions.

“We watched this little boy start to walk and talk in his first few months of life. And then the day came when he was allowed to actually touch Homer for the first time. It was so wonderful for both of them.”

Heather says she’s learned that the boy’s cancer is now in remission. He’s just one of over 300 patients who have discovered firsthand how a sweet, special dog and his devoted owner can fetch healthy goodness that makes a difference.

“I’m just so grateful to work for Tom’s of Maine. I’m a Field Sales Representative but my company also pays me to use my passion for sharing myself and helping people in need. That kind of support from an employer is rare. And that’s part of the reason I’ve been with Tom’s for years.”

Tom’s encourages its employees to use 5 percent of their paid time volunteering at nonprofit organizations of their choice.

You can learn more about the Human-Animal Bond in Colorado (HABIC) organization at:
http://www.habic.cahs.colostate.edu/

 

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