Dr. Elizabeth Lynch, a veterinarian from CT, became a Pet Partners therapy animal handler over 20 years ago; she is also a team evaluator and national program educator. She has previously been registered with three dogs and a rabbit, and is currently registered with her two guinea pigs, Cookie and Moo.
Cookie and Moo were adopted from the New Jersey Guinea Pig Rescue in July 2020. Elizabeth jokes, “Most of the world got a pandemic puppy—we got four guinea pigs!” Two of the guinea pigs proved to be too shy for therapy work, but Cookie and Moo showed their aptitude early on. Cookie was always happy to sniff a hand or take a treat. Moo was very calm and loved being brushed, which was helpful since his hair is over 8 inches long.
Elizabeth, Cookie, and Moo visit an elementary school to help improve literacy as part of the Pet Partners Read With Me initiative. The children enjoy reading their customized books about how Cookie and Moo became therapy animals, and about the body language of guinea pigs, which features all four of Elizabeth’s pets.
Elizabeth finds that guinea pigs can be instrumental in comforting and supporting children who are afraid of larger animals, may be allergic to dogs, or are unable to touch dogs due to their religious practice.
Recently, one young student was thrilled with brushing Moo’s long silky hair. An older sibling arrived to pick the student up from school. Her sibling began to scold her for touching an “unclean” dog and was recounting the penance she would have to do. The student quietly replied, “It’s okay, it’s just Moo.” After closer inspection, the older sibling realized it wasn’t a dog her sister was touching. She then took part in petting Moo, and thoroughly enjoyed her encounter with a guinea pig in an unexpected place.
They are honored and excited to be recognized as Pet Partners’ National Walk Champions for the 2023 World’s Largest Pet Walk presented by Wellness Pet Company. As members of the Pet Partners of Fairfield County walk team, they look forward to raising money and spreading the word about the important work therapy animals do within our communities.