Dogs are a man’s best friend.
Well, that statement is partially true. The fact is that most dogs want to be everyone’s best friend. These furry creatures tend to bring a sense of relief and comfort to humans simply by spending time with them.
Here in St. George, Intermountain Therapy Animals does just that, bringing love and “kisses” wherever they can in Southern Utah.
Patti Gilbert, an Intermountain Therapy Animals coordinator and instructor, has led a pet therapy team for nearly seven years with her adorable shelties, Brutus and Tytus.
“Brutus and Tytus and I started our quest to participate in animal-assisted interactions in October of 2008, here in St. George, Utah,” said Gilbert. “I started working with them right at 8 weeks of age, training and socializing with anyone and everyone, and on their first birthday we became a Pet Partner team, August 2009. In the past eight years, we have enjoyed visiting several facilities — including the hospital, assisted living, and school classrooms — and helping others to become therapy teams under other organizations. As of February 2015, we landed where we feel is home as members of ITA. We are looking forward to building a strong team here in Southern Utah.”
Intermountain Therapy Animals continues to grow with 17 therapy animal teams that visit sites like Dixie Regional Medical Center, assisted living facilities, rehabilitation centers, memory care units, hospice patients, schools, libraries, as well as special events throughout Southern Utah. Gilbert noted it is challenging to fulfill all of the facilities’ requests for teams.
“We are in constant need of more teams willing to volunteer to cover the growing requests,” she said.
For those who think they may be interested in becoming part of Intermountain Therapy Animals, the best thing to do is join the MeetUp group where you can see if your pet is a good fit. From then on, training classes are provided by Gilbert to prepare you and your pet for the evaluation to be registered as an official therapy animal team. Gilbert loves helping other teams accomplish their goals and enjoys the smiles that come from everyone involved, including the dogs!