A bearded man sits under an umbrella with a scarlet macaw therapy bird pressing its beak to the man's face.

Why I Volunteer

December 19, 2022

Why I Volunteer

The past few years have made very clear how powerful and important the work of our therapy animal teams is for the communities and people they serve. But this work is also extremely meaningful for our volunteers, the ones who make this work possible and bring the benefits of the human-animal bond to people across the U.S. and around the world.

We recently asked our volunteers to share some words about why they volunteer. In celebration of all our volunteers and the power of the human-animal bond, we’re pleased to share the responses we received.

A white-haired woman wearing a green sweater holds her brown and white Labradoodle therapy dog.

Bonnie Bird and Juju

A white-haired woman wearing a green sweater holds her black Labradoodle therapy dog.

Bonnie Bird and Ziggy

“Trained as a professional anthropologist, I understand the word ‘community’ in a deep and textured way. I have worked for the Peace Corps, the Experiment in International Living, and UNESCO to bring literacy to African nations.

I have given my time, my money, and my blood (I am a regular, dedicated blood donor) to help others nearby and far away.

Life can be difficult; my goal is to ease it for others.

I have been blessed in life. Being able to share is an additional gift.”

—Bonnie Bird

Bonnie has been a Pet Partners volunteer since 2012 with four therapy animal partners. Her current partners are Juju and Ziggy.

A silver-haired woman with a green floral shirt holds the color of her grizzled black Great Dane therapy dog.

Tina Buckley and Juno

A silver-haired woman with a green floral shirt holds the head harness of her black Great Dane therapy dog.

Tina Buckley and Forest

“It gives me so much joy to see the joy that my Great Dane, Forest, brings to others. Such a small thing to do with such a huge impact!”

—Tina Buckley

Tina first registered with Pet Partners in 2018, with Juno. She and Forest became a Pet Partners team in 2021. She also has AACR credentials with both partners.

 

A white-haired woman with glasses and a colorful patterned shirt sits next to her goldendoodle therapy dog.

Maggie Crawford and Maisie

“To see the joy on not just patients’ faces but also the staff. Especially in the ER. I’ve volunteered at Huntington Hospital, Pasadena, CA for 36 years with four therapy dogs. It’s still the highlight of my week. 🐾”

—Maggie Crawford

Maggie has been registered with Pet Partners since 2001. Her current partner is Maisie.

 

 

A woman with long blond hair and a floral shirt smiles as she sits with her long-haired chihuahua therapy dog on her lap.

Michelle Healey and Tucker

“I feel blessed to have my special little dog, Tucker. I feel that it is my calling to share him with others, bringing joy and comfort, especially to those who need it.”

—Michelle Healey

Michelle and her partner Tucker first became a Pet Partners team in 2021.

 

 

 

A brown-haired woman with glasses and a colorful shirt holds her Bedlington terrier therapy dog.

Amy Hudoba and Chipper

“It’s the joy in the faces of people and assisting with therapy animal team evaluations and handler workshops for establishment of new teams to expand the difference therapy animal teams have in making lives happier.”

—Amy Hudoba

Amy first became a Pet Partners volunteer in 2004 with her partner Sparky and they served until 2017. She is currently registered with Chipper.

 

 

A bearded man sits under an umbrella with a scarlet macaw therapy bird pressing its beak to the man's face.

Dan Lee and George

“I stuttered very badly as a child, and would get laughed at when asked to read aloud in class. That’s why I choose to work with children with reading or speech impairment issues and those on the autism spectrum.

These kids need ears that will listen and encourage without being judgmental.”

—Dan Lee

Dan first registered as a Pet Partners team in 2013 with his macaw (parrot) Buddy. They served together until Buddy’s passing in 2021. Dan registered with a new parrot partner, George, earlier this year.

 

A man with glasses and a blue shirt sits holding his Australian shepherd therapy dog.

Robert Lefton and Pismo

“Giving is noble. Volunteering as a therapy animal team is profound. There are so many ways we have made a difference in someone’s life that we may never know about.”

—Robert Lefton

Robert first registered with his partner Luis in 2018. He is currently registered with Pismo.

 

 

A woman with long dark blond hair and a green shirt holds her black and white mixed breed therapy dog.

Sarah Lone and Layla

“I volunteer to comfort and relate to those in difficult uncertain situations. My dog makes me smile and I want to share that and be a blessing to others.”

—Sarah Lone

Sarah first registered with Pet Partners in 2022. Her partner is Layla.

 

 

 

A woman with her hair pulled back holds a white therapy guinea pig.

Elizabeth Lynch and Cookie

A woman with her hair pulled back and a purple shirt holds a longhaired black and white therapy guinea pig.

Elizabeth Lynch and Moo

“I volunteer to connect profoundly with people in need. Seeing a friendly animal dissolves fear, and allows people to access joy, if only for a moment.”

—Elizabeth Lynch

Elizabeth first became a Pet Partners volunteer in 2001. She has registered as a handler with six therapy animal partners over the years, including three dogs, two guinea pigs, and a rabbit. Her current partners are Cookie and Moo. Elizabeth has also been a team evaluator since 2015, and is currently a National Program Educator, training other team evaluators.

 

A blond woman with glasses and a white sweatshirt kneels next to a brown and white therapy mini horse.

Toni Powell and Betsy the Mini

“After six years it is evident the satisfaction Betsy has while visiting one on one. From her breathing while visiting to exhaustion after, it’s a gift!

Thank you!”

—Toni Powell

Toni and her partner Betsy first became a Pet Partners team in 2016.

 

 

A silver-haired woman with glasses and a green top hugs her German shorthaired pointer therapy dog.

Sharon Schrinner and Nash

A silver-haired woman with glasses and a green top sits holding her golden retriever therapy dog.

Sharon Schrinner and Quinn

“I have visited a variety of populations over the last 12 years that I have been involved with AAT. In all cases it is the smile or the few minutes of taking someone’s mind off something troubling that makes the visit worthwhile and has me looking forward to the next visit.”

—Sharon Schrinner

Sharon registered with her first partner, Nash, in 2019. Earlier this year she added a registration with new partner Quinn.

 

A brunette woman wearing a black top sits next to her rough collier therapy dog.

Marylou Scott and Jasmine

“Volunteering with my dog has created a special bond between us. Nothing is better than walking into a room with my therapy dog to see so many surprised happy faces.”

—Marylou Scott

Marylou is new to Pet Partners, registered in late September of 2022. Her partner is Jasmine.

 

 

A brunette woman wearing a purple top holds her Maltese therapy dog up to the camera; the dog looks skeptical.

Kay Smith and Jessie

“Seeing the smiles of patients and hospital staff, college and elementary students and teachers, and others when they pet Jessie is unimaginably rewarding. Doing therapy animal work has changed my life and enriched the lives of the people we’ve visited.”

—Kay Smith

Kay has been a Pet Partners volunteer with Jessie since 2018. They are also credentialed for AACR.

 

 

A blond woman wearing blue hugs her golden retriever therapy dog.

Elaine Wallace and Dazzelle

“Volunteering is the gift I give myself. It’s not just the reaction of who we are visiting; it is also about our therapy animal.

When I first started volunteering with my sweet golden retriever Dazzelle, I was very proud and felt like I was giving back to society. As time went on, things shifted for me; volunteering was no longer how proud I was and how great I thought it was to have a therapy dog. What happened was I watched her work and over time she taught me a life lesson.

She was very obedient normally. However, at one hospital visit as we were going down the hallway between all the waiting rooms, Dazzelle started almost dragging me. I was really embarrassed. As we skidded along to the end of the hallway, there was a man sitting, leaning forward, elbows on his knees, hands out. He said to Dazzelle, ‘There you are—I have been waiting for you’ as she rested her head on his hands and he leaned over her.

What I learned over time was the deep spiritual healing that animal therapy brought to people.

I have never looked back.”

—Elaine Wallace

Elaine and Dazzelle first registered as a Pet Partners team in 2013 and served until Dazzelle passed away in 2019. Elaine also volunteers as a Pet Partners volunteer instructor and team evaluator.

 

A smiling woman wearing white holds her Yorkshire terrier therapy dog.

Diane Weber and Cheeto

“It’s easy for Cheeto to provide therapy. Cheeto is nine pounds, and almost no one is intimidated by this small dog, even those who are afraid of dogs.”

—Diane Weber

Diane and Cheeto first registered as a Pet Partners team in 2014. They are also credentialed for AACR.

 

 

 


Pet Partners is so grateful to all of our volunteers for the work you do in your communities to share and strengthen the human-animal bond. Special thanks go to the volunteers who chose to share their reasons for volunteering with us. The dedication and passion you bring to this work is inspiring and important, and we’re honored to bring your stories to our audience and hopefully inspire more people to get involved in this work.


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