Volunteers' Voice

News for and about the Visiting Pet Program

February 2018 Volume 17, Issue 2  

Take Note! 
Tara's Toast to Volunteers 
  Volunteer Appreciation Picnic
 Sunday, March 4, 2018
Backyard at The Kamp  2317 Hickory Ave 
Harahan, LA 70123
  Mark Your Calendar
New Volunteer Orientation
June 9, 2018
  10:00am to 12:00 pm
July 15, 2018
2:00pm to 4:00 pm

November 3, 2018
2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
 Harahan Senior Center
 100 Elodie
  Pre-registration required
Contact Claire Sommers at paws4visits@gmail.com to register

Pet/Handler Evaluation
July 28, 2018
nuary 5, 2019
 Harahan Senior Center
    100 Elodie
 Pre-registration required
Contact Barbara Hyland to register at
 if you would like to have an additional pet tested.

Re ading 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
 to confirm your slot at any of these
Reading To Rover
Happy Retirement
The following VPP members recently retired their pets from service to the community. Our sincere thanks goes to:
Fay Schultz retired
JJ joined the VPP in 2003  and was a regular at Walden and St Margaret's.   
JJ also volunteered with the Ochsner Pet Therapy Program. 
Fay t ells us JJ was a special dog and showed his love and affection to everyone he met.  He will be missed by his friends especially those at Ochsner.
It is now time for him to rest an enjoy his retirement. 

Diane Smith retired Emily
Emily joined the VPP in 2004 and was a regular visitor at EJGH. 
Diane tells us Emily loved her work as a therapy dog.   She seemed to know who needed the attention.  In addition to the patient, Emily made sure she went up to everyone in a room; the family might need a little poodle time too.  Emily continued her therapy work in Santa Fe where she made weekly visits to patients at the local hospital and the outpatient chemotherapy center.  

The past three years Emily expanded her therapy dog role in Santa Fe to include hospice work. She was a certified volunteer with Ambercare and brought the value of canine therapy not only to her patients, but also to the staff.   
Our Deepest Sympathies
Linda Bauer lost her precious dog, Jazz in December.   Linda and Jazz joined the VPP in 2012 and Jazz retired in May 2016. 
They were welcomed regulars at St Joseph's. Thankfully, Linda continues to serve as a buddy for our new members. 
From Linda:
We miss her so much already. After I retired her last year I think she missed going to see the elderly folks at St Joseph.  She never met a person she did not like.
 Quick Links
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 31 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  P.O. Box 24748, New Orleans, LA 70184-4748 . 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  

Our January evaluation resulted in 12 new volunteers, 4 current members along with their pets passing the evaluation. Be on the lookout for these new teams as they start their probationary visits. In addition to our new teams, we had over 35 members join us for their re-certification workshop!  The senior center was packed! The workshop was a great opportunity to meet the new folks and swap stories and experiences.

You can read more about our new teams in the New Volunteer section below.
It's Volunteer Appreciation time again! Join us on Sunday, March 4th for family and four legged fun and food! 
In honor of the kindness and generosity of  
Madeline Deirdre Burns, we named the Annual Meeting for her beloved Shelty, Tara. We invite you to join us for
Tara's Toast to Volunteers.   
Our meeting is a wonderful picnic for volunteers and family members. From the  camaraderie  shared with those who love our animals and share our mission, to the great food and exciting games, it's a day not to be missed. VPP provides everything. Just come and enjoy. Bring the family and your VPP dog. The event is Sunday,
March 4th at the Backyard of The Kamp. If you haven't already done so, register by going to this
link. More details are listed there.
We have a very special gift for you at this year's picnic. Susan Levin, local pet psychic, will be available to read your dog's paw and give you insight into his thoughts and feelings. It's great fun and can be quite insightful. After you've heard your pup's inner thoughts, take a photo with him in the Happy Photo booth. Photos will be printed on site and available on line. Some fun, new adventures to make the day extra special for 2 and 4 legged guests. 

See you on March 4th!
Lee Gaffney
President, with thanks to Stacey Warnke for the great picnic photo below and  the one of Harvey Michael 
Meet the New Volunteers
Word Backstrom with
Nash, the Rhodesian Ridgeback. Word is semi-retired as a freelance graphic designer. Word at one time use to show horses in the hunt division and presently volunteers at New Heights Therapeutic Riding in Folsom. Nash enjoys going to Camp Bow Wow and City Bark.
Ben Burstain with
Ringo, the Shih Tzu Mix. Ben is a Member in Training and is a student at Lusher High School. Ringo is already certified in the VPP and enjoys his pet visits with Ben's mom, Jennifer.
Beth Deitch with
Zoe, the Mixed Breed. Beth Is a retired college professor. She also volunteers with many organizations, including being a volunteer for Jean Lafitte National Park. Zoe loves to go on walks and interact with people.
Jacqueline Favret with
Mabel, the Mixed Breed. Jacqueline is a retired assistant professor of nursing at LSUHSC. She enjoys interacting with patients in any setting. Mabel loves children and taking daily walks.
Amy Frechette with
Maggie, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  Amy works at Merrill Lynch as a client associate. She is very active in many organizations including Team ASPCA and runs in half marathons to raise money for the ASPCA. Maggie enjoys going to the dog park and visiting patrons at the Bulldog.
Tom Pelle with
Miley, the Golden Retriever.  Tom is more than familiar with a variety of pets as he is a retired veterinarian with VCA Animal Hospital. Miley loves people and going for daily walks.
Brittany Stanford with
Raider, the Schipperke Mix. Brittany is a curriculum specialist at Inspire NOLA Charter Schools. Brittany also enjoys swing dancing. Raider loves children, going to City Bark as well as festivals.
Jody Workman with
Bitty, the Terrier Mix.  Jody is retired military and is currently a realtor. She is also going to school to be a social worker.  Bitty loves to be petted, going for walks at the lakefront and being with children.
VPP Volunteers add Pets

Connie Back with
Hubbell, the Boxer.  Connie is a purchasing agent with Pellerin Milnor. Connie is also director and volunteer with LA Boxer Rescue, attending many performance events with her Boxers. Connie also is involved with obedience training. Hubbell has participated in performance events as well as obedience classes.

Leslie Davis with
Sam, the Dachshund. Leslie is a Pathology residency coordinator with LSUHSC. Leslie is very much involved with the Metairie Kennel Club and Bayou Dachshund Club. Sam was a single pup delivered by Dr. Tom Pelle, one of our a new volunteers. Sam was
No. 4 smooth Dachshund in 2017 nationally. He is  now happily retired from the show ring.

Lee Gaffney with
Harvey Michael, the Terrier Mix.  Lee is the coordinator of the Bold Goal Program for Humana. Lee is presently president of VPP and has been active many years (26 to be exact) as a member.  Harvey Michael has attended Connie Back's obedience classes and loves to interact with children and adults. Harvey Michael also loves to do tricks such as shake/bump, sit pretty and roll over.

Sabrina Jacks with
Voodoo, the Boston Terrier.   Sabrina is an instructor with Testmasters. She also volunteers with Looziana Basset Rescue and New Orleans Bulldog Rescue. Voodoo has been a show dog and is also active in barn hunting.

(source : http://www.pawtyme.ca)
  • Pets help recovery from heart attacks. 421 adults found that dog owners had a better one-year survival after a heart attack, compared to those who did not own dogs.
  • Pets help us calm down. A study of 240 married couples showed that pet owners had lower heart rates and blood pressure as compared to those without pets.
  • Pets help reduce stress better than our human companions. Pet owners had less stress and quicker recovery from stress when they were with their pets as compared to when they were with their spouse or friend.
  • Pet owners have less obesity. A study looking at 2,000 adults found that pet owners who walked their dogs had less rates of obesity and were more physically active than those without pets.
  • Pet owners have better mobility in their golden years. Another study looking at 2,500 adults aged 71-82 showed that adults who regularly walked their dogs had more mobility inside the house than non-pet owners.
  • Pets increase opportunities for socialization. Many studies have shown that walking a dog leads to more conversations and socialization.
  • Pets can help your cholesterol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that owning a pet can decrease cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.
  • Pets can help comfort children. Child psychologists have found that pets can be very comforting to children and help them develop empathy. They have also been found to help autistic children with socialization.
Guardian Angels
A donation was received from
Cindy Lemoine

in memory of
Cathy Burch
's dog,

A donation was received from
American Academy of Opthalmology
for VPP pets visiting them for 3 days

Donations were received from
Lee Gaffney and Fay and Bill Schultz  
in memory of
Leslie Davis's mother,
Barbara Davis 
A donation was received from
Crossroads Foundation

A donation was received from Daisy Troop
in recognition of  Claire Sommer's presentation to
the Daisy Troop

A donation was received from
Mr. and Mrs. Hap Habisreitinger
in honor of
Fay and Bill Schultz