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‘Paw-some’ virtual pet therapy for social distancing

There are certain members of our JourneyCare community who play a unique role in the well-being of our patients – they also happen to be the furriest members of the JourneyCare family. Our long-running pet therapy program is part of our Volunteer Services Department and pairs animals with patients for comfort, stress and symptom relief, and socialization. Usually, pet therapy volunteers visit patients in our four inpatient CareCenters, assisted living facilities, and their homes. But in response to the coronavirus, we are taking extra precautions to keep our patients, volunteers and animals safe. That’s why JourneyCare is sharing cuteness and comfort virtually this edition – and bringing our therapy animals to you!

Meet Gabrielle and Nuka, brother and sister Nuka Siberian Huskies

Ages: Gabrielle, 8 and Nuka, 6

Volunteering since: 2017

Volunteer owner: Pam, of Woodstock

Their story: Their owner, Pam, adopted Gabrielle when he was 6 and has had Nuka since she was a baby. In 2017, they started visiting hospice patients in one of JourneyCare’s inpatient hospice CareCenters and now volunteer in one of our partner assisted living facilities. During their visits, each dog has their own way of showing affection to patients; Gabrielle likes to give hi-fives and Nuka likes giving hugs and kisses.

Pam says: “The huskies are happy when they get to volunteer. They bring so much joy to the patients and it’s rewarding and uplifting to see patients smile. Everyone in the facility knows who Gabrielle and Nuka are – even patients who can no longer remember their own name know Gabrielle and Nuka’s name.”

Meet Buttons, an adopted Shih Tzu
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Age: 12

Volunteering since: 2012

Volunteer owner: Steve, of Schaumburg

His story: Buttons was rescued from a no-kill shelter by his owner, Steve, when he was 2 years old. With his pleasant personality, Buttons visits JourneyCare patients in the Barrington CareCenter, partner living facilities and their private homes.

Steve says: “Pet therapy calms patients during visits.” He shared a story of how Buttons brought comfort to a family whose 2-week-old baby was in hospice. The mother asked to pet the dog on the bed and, while lying next to the mother, Buttons was so gentle it brought a sense of calmness to the entire room. Steve says he feels rewarded by giving back and bringing joy to patients in need.

See you soon!

Since all JourneyCare Pet Therapy animals are practicing social distancing right now, Buttons, Gabrielle and Nuka send virtual hi-fives, hugs and kisses. They can’t wait to visit in person with our patients and families again soon!

To learn more about our Pet Therapy program, please call 224-770-2489.