American Humane Associations Hero Dog Awards - 2012 Finalists
Category: Therapy Dogs
Location: Mt. Kisco, New York
Charity Partner:Angel On A Leash
It is with great pleasure that I am nominating Stella Lenore Levy to receive a Hero Dog Award. Richmond Community Services is a not-for-profit organization that serves people with developmental disabilities and critical health problems with residences, day programs, and respite programs. Richmond is committed to providing enjoyable activities for the people we support, just as a family would provide for its loved ones. I am Stacy Lynn Rivera, the volunteer program specialist for Richmond Community Services, and I am submitting Stella’s nomination. Stella, a standard poodle, was certified by Therapy Dogs International in July 2011. Stella began volunteering soon after at our largest residence that houses 76 people who have significant intellectual, medical, and physical disabilities. Stella brought about many smiles and stimulation not otherwise available. Stella is impervious to disabilities and diseases – befriending and with time, unconditionally loving everyone she meets. One touching anecdote I was witness to makes Stella a Hero Dog! Stella visited a new Richmond residential facility for the first time in January 2012. She walked around and was introduced to everyone. As Stella lay on one gentleman’s lap, he began to pet her and answered yes to questions including: Is Stella soft? Can you feel her heartbeat? Does he enjoy Stella’s company? When Stella moved to another room, this gentleman began to cry surprising the staff, who said they had never seen him cry before. Stella returned to him, jumped back into his lap and he began to kiss her saying “mine.” No more tears were shed. Stella visits this gentleman every Saturday morning and the staff jokes that Stella has a boyfriend. As a result of the fast track stardom Stella obtained at Richmond Community Services, we asked her owner to visit more facilities. Currently, we are lucky to have Stella visit twelve times every week at nine different programs and homes. I am also thrilled to include that Stella Lenore Levy earned the prestigious title of TDI Gold on the 29th of February 2012. Stella truly is a miracle with four paws! Stella and her team are supporting Angel On A Leash, a unique organization in the field of therapy dogs and animal assisted interactions. Angel On A Leash works to create and support a therapy dog program unique to each facility, a program that meets the needs of its clients and patients training the human partner of the team, who drives the experience and must be the guiding hand for the team and protecting the dogs as they work, emphasizing that the safety and health of the dog is a top priority. Angel On A Leash champions working with therapy dogs in health care facilities, schools, rehabilitation, hospice, extended care, correctional facilities, and crisis intervention. Through advocacy, education, research and service, Angel On A Leash promotes the role of the human-animal bond in enhancing human health and quality of life.