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Denver Pet Partners

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Health, Health Support

Mission: Denver Pet Partners (DPP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the Human-Animal Bond to improve quality of life, benefit human-animal interaction and enhance animal-assisted interaction services in Colorado. Founded in 2001, DPP is inclusive of animal-assisted interaction volunteers, professionals and associated organizations. Mission Statement of DPP: To deliver excellence in animal-assisted interaction and enhance the health and wellness of people through: AAI Services Education Networking Advocacy Research Resource Development

Results: Enhanced services of the healthcare, education and child welfare communities by aiding the rate of healing and teaching important life skills as well as increasing the knowledge of healthcare professionals about incorporating animals into the therapeutic treatment process

Target demographics: healthcare, education & child welfare

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 40,000 lives through direct services, training courses and community education

Geographic areas served: metro Denver and surrounding areas

Programs: information and education on animal-assisted interaction and provides the services of registered, insured volunteer handler-animal teams to enhance the healing and learning process for the metro Denver area in healthcare, education and child welfare.

Community Stories

26 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Dudley, a 10 month old flat coated retriever, was owner surrendered to the Pikes Peak Humane Society and came into our home in 2005. He soon settled into his new environment and became our devoted and loving companion. As time went by we realized that he had a lot more to give than just being our partner.

Denver Pet Partners (DPP) turned out to be the perfect vehicle for us to work through. In 2013, my wife and Dudley qualified as a therapy dog team and began visiting Special Ed students at a local elementary school. I accompanied them and was amazed at the impact Dudley had on these youngsters. They looked forward to Dudley’s arrival and it was heartwarming to see their faces light up upon his arrival.

As a Reading Education Assistance Dog (READ) Dudley visited several libraries that had “Paws to Read” programs for children. He welcomed anyone who came by and obviously was non-judgmental of their reading skills.

Visiting residents at two Memory Care Centers in Castle Rock exposed us to a new set of unforgettable experiences. Dudley’s presence brought great joy to those he met. Residents relaxed and loved to pet or hold him while sharing stories of their own animal companions.

In 2015, Dudley made sure that I too passed DPP’s exams, so that we became a qualified therapy team as well. I was excited to be his partner.

In Feb. 2016, he was diagnosed with cancer and 5 weeks later we had to say goodbye to our sweet Dudley. We miss him terribly but find solace in knowing that he brought joy to many lives and refreshed the memories of those who were losing them.

Denver Pet Partner’s programs provide invaluable benefits to many who are very appreciative of companionship and comfort. DPP volunteers with their animal partners selflessly meet these needs. My wife and I are honored to be supporting members of such an incredible organization.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Denver Pet Partners was brought to my attention in 2013 through a dog trainer in Castle Rock. Our sweet Flat Coated Retriever, Dudley, was 8 years old, and I had felt for a long time that he would make a terrific therapy dog. He was definitely a people dog with a wonderful temperament and calm demeanor. Not only would he bring love and comfort to people who needed it, but he himself would enjoy this kind of work.

DPP required me to take a Therapy Dog Handler class and Dudley went through an evaluation which he passed easily, before we could be a registered therapy team. DPP is very well organized and set up to help people and their dogs become successful visiting teams. Dudley and I followed up with a R.E.A.D (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) course and shortly after, we were on our way to visit with Special Ed children at a school not far from us. The children greatly benefited from these visits and let everyone know just how much they looked forward to Dudley’s visits.

When the therapy dog program at the school was discontinued, we started visiting first one and then a second memory care facility in Castle Rock. The impact Dudley made on the lives of these people was tremendous. They so enjoyed seeing him and soon started talking and laughing and sharing their own dog stories.

Every other week, Dudley also used his beautiful people skills as a R.E.A.D. dog at a public library, where children had a lot of fun reading to him. We could see that the children with poor reading skills were improving at a fast rate. There is much to be said for the success of this program.

Throughout this time, we would attend DPP team meetings that were both educational and informative. We are so grateful for this great organization and will continue to support it, even though our beloved Dudley died of cancer in 2016.
Thank you, Denver Pet Partners, for giving us this wonderful opportunity.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My story begins many years ago when my then 10 year old son was a patient at a hospital in Ohio. The best part of being in the hospital, according to my son, was the dog that came to visit! While I was unable to do anything at that point in my life, I knew that at some point I wanted to be that person that brought a dog to visit patients and make their day just a bit brighter!

We moved from Ohio to Aurora with a beautiful Sheltie puppy that I was training to hopefully become that dog that all would enjoy! Denver Pet Partners made my long time dream come true in 2014. I completed the Handler Training Workshop and we passed our Evaluation and started visiting at a cancer center and local hospital. I am always humbled by the joy and love that my sheltie has given to patients, visitors and staff.

Thank you Denver Pet Partners for making a dream come true, for providing me the support, education and community that I call friends!

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

In 2001 my wonderful wife and executive director of Denver Pet Partners, Diana, accompanied by our Golden Retriever, Shana, walked into Swedish Medical Center and asked the volunteer director, Sally Jo Thomas, if she had a visiting animal program in which they could participate. Sally Jo responded that they did not have such a program. Immediately upon learning this, Diana asked if she could start one...the rest is history! That day the Swedish Medical Center became the first program for Denver Pet Partners and, to this day, it remains the largest and longest-standing program which we operate in partnership with Swedish. Since 2001, Denver Pet Partners has grown into a vital organization with over 160 members. Our amazing (and I truly mean amazing) members have shown the healing power of the human-animal bond to many thousands of people in acute care facilities, long-term care facilities, hospices, schools, and libraries. They have freely donated hundreds of thousands of hours of their own time (and that of their precious Partners) to help people smile and feel better about themselves, and contribute to healing in miraculous ways. Children have learned critical reading skills by reading to a friendly, and always very attentive, dog! The work we do is powerful and DPP is becoming increasingly relevant in our community thanks to the dedication of the members, their Pet Partner teammates, and our board which I am privileged to lead.

Ken McQuarrie
Chair, Denver Pet Partners

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Janice and her pups have been participating in Bark for Books at Douglas County Libraries in Parker for approximately three years. They have had a positive impact on more than 150 kids, fostering a love of both reading and animals. Not only have they touched the lives of many children, but of library staff members as well! It is wonderful to stop working for a few minutes and love on some pooches. Thank you so much, Janice, for your time and positive energy!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Clay and I have been with Denver Pet Partners for two years and have been a team for a little over a year. I have always found everyone to be gracious and very helpful. Initially I was confused as to how one went about linking up with an organization to visit as a team. I wrote a Board Member that I didn't know and he quickly referred me to someone else who linked us up with the hospital that I now volunteer with. DPP stresses the importance of being your pet's best advocate no matter the situation. Allegiance to our pet partners is first and foremost.
The organization strives to keep members up to date on the latest research of the animal-human bond as well as other pertinent topics. DPP provides many services to many community agencies with quality care and interactions always in mind.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering for this organization for over 3 years, visiting hospitals, schools, libraries, and other locations with my dog. Sometimes we are just a distraction for a patient from the monotony of the hospital or for a student from the stress of finals week, and other times my dog provides a furry shoulder to lean on for someone who is going through a very difficult time. People have shared things with her that they would never share with other people. Everywhere we go, whether we are just arriving at a hospital, library, or school, or we are actively working, people are happy to see a dog in a place where they don't expect to see one.

The people who volunteer with their animals for Denver Pet Partners are top notch; their top priority is the welfare of their animals and they love to help the people they visit, whether it's children learning to read or lonely seniors in a nursing home. Denver Pet Partners has rigorous standards for their animals and animal handlers, ensuring only those who are suitable for this work are doing it. There are also many people who volunteer many hours to serve on the Board of Directors for Denver Pet Partners or to assist with training, team evaluations, and administrative tasks. This is truly a highly dedicated group of volunteers who strives for excellence in everything they do.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I retired in 2015, I knew that I wanted to spend my time sharing wonderful doggy hugs with other people. Since the prior year, I had been a patient of the Aurora Rocky Mountain Cancer center, and I had seen them have therapy dogs come to visit. So, I started my therapy dog journey by asking the Aurora Rocky Mountain Cancer Center what therapy dog organization they worked with. I trusted them with my life, so I figured whoever they thought was the best was really the best! They told me to wait that day, that one of the teams with Denver Pet Partners was coming in a few minutes! So, when I met the handler, she gave me her card and said to send her an email. I did that, and right away I was in touch with the DPP training coordinator, who called and talked to me. I did not have a dog to have as my therapy dog yet, and the training coordinator really helped me with advice about what to do. I then started to go to the team meetings, which was so wonderful, I got to meet so many handlers and their dogs, and hear stories and get wonderful advice about how to proceed. I then decided I would like to help out Denver Pet Partners however I could, so when we were asked at one of the team meetings to volunteer for a committee to plan the 15 year anniversary party for Denver Pet Partners, I said yes! I also volunteered for whatever else needed to be done, and began answering the phone calls and emails going to the Denver Pet Partner info line. From there it has just blossomed. I have come to know so many wonderful, caring people, that are so committed to making Denver Pet Partners a wonderful organization, with very special goals, to create safe, quality visits from our teams every time. The stories you hear from the teams of their visits bring tears to your eyes, they are so moving. Thank you Denver Pet Partners for adding a special purpose and value to my life. I have had my puppy now for a year and a half, and the Denver Pet Partner members have been so helpful to me in her training, and socialization, and getting me ready for my evaluation! Having this network of people available is invaluable.

Marcia Hanes


1

Donor

Rating: 5

This is a well run organization with a dedicated membership. They reach out to the community in many ways, and support the impact of therapy animals.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Denver Pet Partners has enhanced my total being. I am a retired, elementary school librarian, who was addicted to my profession. Feeling like a part of my personality had left me, there was an emptiness I had never experienced before. Enter Denver Pet partners. I had heard about the R.E.A.D. program and what it could do to build confidence in reluctant readers. Lucky for me, I had a very loving Labradoodle that I was confident could be my partner in this new chapter of my life. We were on a mission to become a R.E.A.D. team. I did my research, and Halle Berry Perry, my Labradoodle, and I completed our obedience training, AKC Canine Good Citizen Award, Denver Pet Partners evaluation and our R.E.A.D. evaluation. We are enthusiastically serving the elementary school I retired from, another elementary school close to my home and our local library. We also visit an assisted living facility. Giving back to my community has more than filled that void in my life. Knowing the positive impact we are creating for these students and the elderly simply warms my heart and soul. Doing this with my treasured Labradoodles makes this a dream come true. Labradoodles? Yes! I now have my second Labradoodle, Ziva, also serving with me as a registered Denver Pet Partner therapy dog. Halle is entering her fifth year of serving and Ziva, her third year. The children and elderly alike, love these dogs as much as I do! Denver Pet Partners and Read With Me, formerly R.E.A.D., have enhanced my life and I feel whole again!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Emma, my five year old petite blond golden retriever, has a special connection to people - Emma is a just a magnet of love, whether they are patients, guests or staff. I don't pretend to understand this magic. I don't want to analyze it. I accept the beauty of pet therapy with gratitude, awe, and thanksgiving.

Pet therapy programs have been shown to help patients achieve positive health effects, such as decreased blood pressure levels, as well as a lessneing of stress and anziety. Visits can result in fewer requests for pain medication, and shorter recovery times. Emma provides a break from the normal hospital routine, eats up the affection, provides companionship, and helps patients feel connected to the outside world that they can only see through their window. We bring the outside inside. After all, who doesn't need more hugs?

Board Member

Rating: 5

My name is Ed . As a new Board Member, I am constantly reminded of the
profound effect that the bond between animals and humans provides. In
hospitals and nursing homes, etc., Denver Pet Partners visits give patients
comfort , and the satisfaction of knowing how much we are appreciated.
It is most heart warming!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When one thinks about volunteering, it can often be a difficult choice to make as to where best to devote time and energy. This is especially so because there are many, many great institutions and causes, which really need help from the community. The big question a person often asks of herself/himself is, “Can I make a difference”? The answer is a resounding “YES” if you volunteer through or support Denver Pet Partners (DPP)! As a volunteer for 5 years, my pet partner and I have seen the magic of a furry friend. Supporting Physical Therapists with one -on -one activities that assist individuals to heal physically and emotionally from surgeries and other life altering events, we know and see the tangible difference each visit makes. Our clients count on us to help them achieve their goals with the individuals they hope to aid. Whether success is measured by way of a smile, a positive emotion, or a task/physical goal achieved, it is impossible to miss that the presence of a pet partner played a key role in the event. DPP is committed to excellence and demonstrates this through comprehensive training, ongoing support of its teams, and service excellence to it’s clients and partners!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Denver Pet Partners has been a huge supporter of the Paws to Read program at Bemis Public Library. "Paws" began at Bemis in April 2004 to partner reluctant readers with therapy pets in order to provide a non-critical and non-judgmental audience which allows children to overcome their fear of reading aloud. We are so grateful to the dedicated teams who volunteer their time and efforts month after month to instill confidence and foster a love of reading in the children of our community.
Val Fetters - Children's Division Supervisor

luvgoldens

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It has been my great pleasure to volunteer with Denver Pet Partners for 8 years. With my canine pet therapy partners, Kenzie and Toby, I've had many memorable experiences visiting at Swedish Medical Center. Kenzie was known for her patient work in the rehabilitation unit where she would help stroke victims regain strength and coordination. Therapists would often tell of how her presence encouraged patients to work harder and more joyfully. Toby visits with me now sharing his own special kind of tail-wagging joy. He and I are also involved in a Read to the Dog program at the Anythink Library. The children are so encouraged when they have a friendly furry buddy to read to. I've also been active as a Trained Evaluator for DPP. In all of my experiences with DPP I have encountered wonderful, supportive people. I hope to be involved in this rewarding work for many more years.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am an Advisory Council member for Denver Pet Partners, but also had the joy of working closely with Diana McQuarrie in developing the "Therapy Animals Supporting Kids" (TASK) Program and Manual setting forth guidelines on therapy animals working with children going through the court process. Denver Pet Partners and its leadership are truly at the top of this field and are providing a high-quality safe service. It is a wonderful organization and I am honored to be a part of!

schr0413

Board Member

Rating: 5

In addition to serving on the board of directors with DPP, I volunteer with my 130 lb Great Pyrenees/Bernese mix named Marley. We have been able to touch lives at both Swedish Medical Center and the Mount Saint Vincent Home weekly for the past couple of years. Originally, I signed up for the organization because I had a dog that would be a great fit and DPP appeared to be the most professional in Denver. This experience has very much exceeded my expectations due to the people involved and the visual impact Marley makes on other people's lives.

The people involved with DPP are amazing and truly care about AAT work and giving back to others. In addition to Marley touching lives every time he goes to work, I have learned from the interactions myself. This makes both of us a better therapy team and me a better person. Overall, DPP has touched my life immensely and why I'm more involved as a board member in addition to an active therapy team. For anyone that has ever bonded with an animal and recognizes the impact it can have, Denver Pet Partners is a perfect fit to help you help others.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteer through Denver Pet Partners at Julia Greeley Academy, doing Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) with the R.E.A.D. program (Reading Education Assistance Dogs). This is the second year we have been volunteering there. Julia Greeley is small private school in northeast Denver which serves inner city minority youth. The principal and the teachers select students who are significantly behind their peers in reading. Hathaway, our therapy dog, and I work with the same students each week, a half hour per student. They get the chance to practice reading in a safe, calm environment – to a really non-judgemental listener! I try to channel my comments through Hathaway, saying things like “Hathaway didn’t understand that word, let’s try to break it into parts so that she can understand it,” or “Hathaway is confused about this part of the story. Can you explain it to her?”

The program works best for students who need additional practice; students who have become anxious and uncomfortable reading aloud. Hathaway snuggles beside them as they read, and they pet her while they read to her. Of the students in the first year, one was two grades behind his peers when we started, and had caught up to them by the end of the year.

Part of the success of the Pet Partners program at Julia Greeley can be seen in program’s reception – the staff, parents and students all hope for additional teams, because they can see the difference the Pet Partners teams make in the lives of the students they work with.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My name is Ellen. Eight years ago I was blessed to have rescued a very special chocolate Labrador Retriever named Pennie. We have been working at the Denver Pet Partners READ program at the Westminster Libraries for the last two years. The work that we do with the children is so rewarding. I love that I received such good training as a literacy volunteer, and that Pennie and I received exceptional training as a human-animal team before working with the community. Couple that with the outstanding partnership with the librarians at the Westminster Libraries, and we have an outstanding program for the children. The children grow in their literacy skills as they grow in their comfort and relationships with the READ dogs. There is nothing more special than to watch a young reader engaged with a good book and an attentive dog!
We receive ongoing evaluation of skills as a human-animal team, frequent program updates from READ, and ongoing continuing education to keep us current on equipment and literature. This program ROCKS! Thank you DPP for all that you do.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My name is Randa and I have a retired Guide dog named Lilly. Lilly captured my heart the moment I met her and I knew I should share her love with as many people as possible. Lilly and I visit at a shelter for women and children. She is a star, wiggling her tail as fast as possible all the while giving kisses to all who ask. The women, many of whom have had to give up their own pets, just love the affection Lilly brings to them. Denver Pet Partners is a welcome partner with this shelter. They realize how important the human-animal bond is- even more so to those who have lost everything. Lilly and I are thankful to be able to spend a little time with these women and children in need.