Teams are typically made up of a hand-held pet (dog, rabbit, cat, etc.) and its owner. Each team attends a seven-week training program. While visiting a facility, pets are never worked more than two hours at a time.
One such team is Brenda Metcalf and her two rescued Golden Retrievers, Rhenn and Rosie. Rhenn, a team member for six years, is a 10-year-old male and Rosie, a first-year team member, is a 5-year-old female.
For Brenda, a 30-year retired Sears employee, this is a labor of love. She learned about MVPTA when she and her granddaughter were picking up a prescription at Wright-Patterson Medical Center. Her granddaughter was restless waiting until she saw two dogs. While her granddaughter played with the dogs, Brenda learned about MVPTA from the dog’s owners. When she adopted Rhenn and witnessed his love for people, she volunteered for the program.
Brenda and Rhenn visit numerous facilities and programs throughout the year. Special visits have included spending time with children impacted by the Memorial Day tornadoes and victims of Dayton’s mass shooting. Weekly visits have included the Greater Dayton Cancer Center and Wright-Patterson’s Medical Center.
Brenda has an affinity for Wright-Patt. Her father and husband are retired military. Daughter Shelley is a nurse and major in the U.S. Air Force.
Brenda and Rosie have spent time with University of Dayton students during exams, as well as weekly visits to the National Air & Space Intelligence Center.
Over the years, Brenda has seen patients and medical staff relax when Rhenn enters the room. Individuals reminisce about their own favorite dog. The time spent in an infusion center goes more quickly for patients because their focus is on Rhenn, not the medical procedure.
Both dogs have a keen sense of their surroundings. Rhenn easily maneuvers around IV poles. Brenda says he seems to know which patient needs him the most.
One patient at the Cancer Center was having a port inserted so she could start treatment. She was extremely nervous. Unprompted, Rhenn walked right up to her. A nurse put a chair next to the patient and Rhenn jumped up and placed his head on her shoulder. The patient started to relax. Her attention diverted, the patient was amazed when the nurse said the procedure was done.
Brenda said watching Rhenn and the patient interact brought her to tears. Listening to Brenda talk about the joy these two dogs bring to people brought me to tears.
Karin Spicer, a magazine writer, has been entertaining families for more than 20 years. She lives in Bellbrook with her family and two furry animals all who provide inspiration for her work. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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