Therapy Animals of Utah
Meet Meadow, a three year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a registered therapy dog. Meadow and her handler, Catherine, joined Therapy Animals of Utah in 2013, but Catherine knew she wanted to have a therapy dog even before she had a dog. She had seen one at work and recognized this as a great way to help out in the community and share her love for pets.
Since becoming a therapy team, Catherine and Meadow don’t limit themselves to just one type of volunteering.
Every other Monday they visit seniors at a nursing home where several residents’ faces light up when they see Meadow.
Every Tuesday, they visit younger people in a psychiatric unit in a mental health center. Catherine recalls a patient there who didn’t talk at all until he met Meadow. Without prompting, another young man thanked Meadow and petted her on the head. For him, this was a huge breakthrough. In group sessions, Meadow insists on going from one person to the next until she has visited with each one. “Meadow’s a natural. She loves people,” says Catherine, “She brings out the best in people.”
Another time, when Meadow visited with two patients at the same time at the center, one bent down to give her a hug. Moments later, she and another patient really opened up, talking about prior center visits, jail time, their experiences in jail and comparing stories on how they were treated. “It was amazing how comfortable they felt around Meadow. Pets don’t judge, they love you and accept you no matter what you went to jail for. It was something they both needed to talk about and Meadow helped to facilitate that. The staff and I just sat back and let them talk. It was a good experience for everyone,” said Catherine.
Meadow and Catherine also volunteer at special events like the TAU information booth at the Farmers Market and stress relief events at the University of Utah. There’s even the time when Meadow comforted mourners at a funeral. And, Meadow has her own Facebook page (Meadow the Pet Therapy Dog) where she and Catherine share their experiences as a volunteer team.
Her name may be Meadow, but she pursues many fields in which to bring comfort, love, hope and healing to those in need.