The Villages - April 2018 - 14
Hamby has been visiting care centers with her
dog Zoe for four years. Knowing the importance of
understanding dementia and its limitations, she
organized the meeting at SeaBreeze.
"The special presentation was initially designed for
the Dynamic Dog therapy team handlers," Hamby said.
"But we felt we should open the program to the entire
membership. This information is valuable for anyone
dealing with dementia."
Hamby also works with The Villages Recreation and
Parks Department on a program including handlers and
their dogs for Camp Villages, and she coordinates the
schedules for therapy teams visiting memory care centers.
The Dynamic Dog Club has around 100 therapy
teams, Hamby said, noting that a team consists of a dog
and its owner.
"Only certified dogs are allowed," Hamby said. "The
process includes a three-hour training that covers topics
including how to approach a wheelchair and how to
acclimate your dog to the sights, sounds and smells of a
care-center environment. We have five tester-observers
who evaluate the teams to make sure dog owners have
control of their dogs. If they pass, we take them out with
a team and use our checklists to gauge whether they are
capable and insurable. Once they are certified, they have
to do a minimum number of visits per year to stay active."
Peggy Lewis & OLivia
People trust dogs because
they don't want anything other
than to love us and make us
happy. Olivia curls up, sits in
your lap and just listens.
- Peggy Lewis
As with the Hamby-Zoe team, visiting assisted-living centers
has become a rewarding outreach for Peggy Lewis and her Shih
After her long career in the Pasco County school system, Lewis
moved to The Villages and contacted the Dynamic Dog Club.
"I was doing therapy work at Wesley Chapel (Florida
Hospital)," Lewis said. "I helped start the program there but after
moving here, it was too long a drive."
Olivia has since made friends at various local facilities.
"Receptionists and people in the lobbies light up when they see
Olivia," Lewis said. "It's what I love about working with therapy
dogs - everyone enjoys them."
Making her rounds via a decked-out dog stroller, Olivia greets
friends at Sumter Place and the Willows. She brings her own
brand of sunshine, and always elicits smiles. The stroller works
well because it keeps Olivia at wheelchair level with residents, and
it serves as a walking aid for Lewis, who has occasional difficulty
Olivia also adores children. In fact, she has helped many young
students through her other volunteer role as a reading education
assistance dog, a certified therapy dog that offers emotional
support and comfort to struggling students.
"We visit Villages Elementary (of Lady Lake) on Tuesdays,"
Lewis said. "We've met some pretty cool kids - ESOL (English for
Speakers of Other Languages) students. There are kids who won't
talk to people, won't read in front of people, are afraid to learn
and that kind of thing."
Lewis described a second-grade boy who was apprehensive
about reading. The program helped him come out of his shell and
become a confident and enthusiastic learner.
"He's reading now, and that's pretty amazing," she said.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Villages - April 2018
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The Villages - April 2018 - Contents
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