Faithful Paws News

We love spreading joy on our visits! Check out the articles and videos below to get a glimpse of our impactful work in the community.

Faithful Paws was featured on KPRC on April 30, 2024, for National Therapy Animal Day!

Mary Anne Heckman, Sharkey and Finn James H. "Red" Duke, Jr., MD, started the Life Flight air ambulance service and was also a supporter of the work of Faithful Paws. Look for more articles like this on our revised "Meet the Hands and Paws" page on our website, coming in 2024!

James H. “Red” Duke, Jr., MD, the John B. Holmes Professor of Clinical Sciences at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), was a dedicated physician known for his extraordinary patient care and efforts to train medical students and surgeons, and educate the public about health issues.

“Dr. Duke was a true pioneer – a talented and tireless surgeon, a dedicated and inspiring educator, and a friend and mentor to everyone he met. He never sought to be a leader, but became one naturally through his brilliance, compassion, patience and selflessness,” said Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, MD, president of UTHealth and dean of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. He had a constant presence at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and was known for his guidance, wit, and most importantly, his example.

As one of the first faculty members at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, Dr. Duke established the trauma service at the primary teaching hospital now called Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. In 1976, he was instrumental in developing Life Flight®, the state’s first lifesaving air ambulance service. For almost four decades, he served as medical director of Life Flight, a signature program of Memorial Hermann Texas Trauma Institute. In 2016, Memorial Hermann Texas Trauma Institute was officially renamed Memorial Hermann Red Duke Trauma Institute as one of the many ways to continue Dr. Duke's legacy. “Dr. Duke was one of our country’s great doctors. He was a friend, a colleague, and a role model and mentor to a generation of doctors who benefited immensely from his guidance,” said Dan Wolterman, president and CEO, Memorial Herman Health System. Dr. Duke was known for his relentless and unprecedented dedication and impact on medicine, education and the medical community and made a lasting impact.

Mary Anne Heckman, Sharkey and Finn Diana Acres, Team Leader for Houston Methodist Medical Center tells us about how she got started with Faithful Paws. Look for more articles like this on our revised "Meet the Hands and Paws" page on our website, coming in 2024!

"Up until 2016, I had been the picture of health. I was homeschooling both of my grandchildren, who were recently diagnosed with autism, and had run my first 5K. But, my world came crashing down when I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and literally a couple of weeks away from dying.

Besides the shock of the diagnosis there in the doctors office, my first thought went to who would take care of my recently rescued HoneyBee and Archie? Especially Archie, whose broken back and severed spinal cord made it necessary to express his bladder every three hours. No one knew how to take care of him, including my husband. Against doctors orders, I went home to train my husband before being admitted to the hospital through the ER for an indefinite period of time. That’s where I met a team from Faithful Paws, although I wasn’t allowed to pet them due to the leukemia. But, it brought me such joy just to see them.

Walking through this “valley of the shadow of death” would take the next two years with a lot of faith in God, prayers, and an amazing husband, family, friends, doctors, and nurses. As my healing began to rise on the horizon, my husband told me that he didn’t want me to go back to work; but that he wanted me to do whatever brought me the most joy with this second chance at life. He was about to retire; so this wish/gift that he gave me would mean that he would need to work several more years as a Houston Police Lieutenant and in this day and time, that would be very difficult. But, he really wanted me to have this gift, so I instantly knew what I wanted to do and that was to go back and encourage other patients at Houston Methodist, where I was treated, and use HoneyBee and Archie to do so. HoneyBee and Archie’s unconditional love, cuddles and just being there at my weakest moments was so important to my recovery. Everyone at the hospital, all my doctors and nurses knew about Archie and HoneyBee and I kept telling them that I would be visiting them with Archie and HoneyBee as soon as I got well. My doctors and nurses always remarked that my faith in God and positive attitude is what made the difference in my recovery. During my isolation at home and as soon as I regained my energy, I started training HoneyBee and Archie on the Canine Good Citizen skills. Once HoneyBee was certified, following training with Faithful Paws, we visited at Houston Methodist. Due to Covid, Archie wasn’t able to start until 2022.

I am so grateful to Faithful Paws for training me, HoneyBee and Archie so that we could use this most meaningful gift of a second chance."

Mary Anne Heckman, Sharkey and Finn Long Time Member, Mary Anne Heckman tells us about how she got started with Faithful Paws. Look for more articles like this on our revised "Meet the Hands and Paws" page on our website, coming in 2024!

"2017 was a very hard year for me until I became part of Faithful Paws. My former two goldens, Buffett and Mango, passed away three weeks from each other in January. I just got my puppy, Finn, two days before Buffett passed away. Two days after Buffett passed, my mother became ill and was either in the hospital or rehab facility until she passed away in May. I was always at the hospital, so I had to depend on neighbors and friends to take care of Finn for me. During this time, my business of 35 years was really starting to slow down, and I was wondering what my next step was going to be.

A friend, Karen Desrochers, and I had lunch after my mom passed away and she told me about Faithful Paws and suggested I look into volunteering. She told me there was a long waiting list so go ahead and fill out the application online. Two days later I was told that Finn and I could start classes. On my first day of class, Connie Richards, Founder, Director and Lead Trainer at the time, took Finn from me and was working with a very excitable golden retriever puppy. She scolded him very firmly and said “You are not a credible image for Faithful Paws”. Here I am thinking I am going to get kicked out before I had even started. I went to classes for six months and Connie kept telling me, keep it up, Finn will be a great therapy dog.

During my time in classes, Hurricane Harvey flooded my house I had inherited from my mother. I had been working hard to get it ready to have an estate sale and put the house up for sale. Now, I had to deal with a flooded house that was supposed to go on the market two days after it was flooded. I was lucky enough to be able to sell it the following year for lot value and very thankful I had flood insurance to offset my loss.

I continued to go to class every week until the next year when Connie and I both agreed it was time to test Finn, and he passed! I became involved and started making visits to assisted livings, nursing homes and eventually hospitals. I do about 25 visits a month with Finn and my other golden, Sharky. I am thankful to Connie and Faithful Paws for putting a purpose back in my life after the many losses I had incurred in 2017. I am truly grateful to Connie for her patience and continuing to encourage me to keep working with Finn until he was ready to be tested and become part of a great organization!"



Major Craft - Buzz Magazines

Meet the Craft family: Parents George and Emily, and their children, Caroline (13), George (10), and of course, Major, a 6-year-old Golden Retriever. Major is is a certified therapy dog with Faithful Paws Pet Therapy and pays visits to patients and their families all over Houston. (Photo: Kate Robinson Photography)

Karen Cadenhead and Omri - 600 visits Karen Cadenhead and Omri completed 600 visits on May 3, 2024. They were accompanied by a few of their friends to celebrate the accomplishment! Well done! Read below for more on Omri from his mom, Karen:

"I adopted Omri from a shelter in 2015 when he was just 3 months old and very quickly recognized that he was born to be a therapy dog. He loves people and never meets a stranger! When he was about 4 months old, I took him to a “puppy social” class where the owners sat around the perimeter of the training area and let the puppies play. Omri went and greeted all the people and ignored the other puppies! I checked into therapy dog organizations and found Faithful Paws. We started class when he was a 4 ½ month old rambunctious terrier puppy, but somehow we survived and he took the CGC test at 6 months old. He was 7 months old when he made his first therapy visit.

Over the years, Omri has matured into a capable therapy dog, and he still loves his job as much as he did when he started. His sensitivity to how people are feeling is still amazing to me. Time and time again, he has randomly approached someone (on visits as well as out in public), and as they are petting and interacting with them, they start talking. The encounter invariably ends with something like, “I was having a really rough day/week/etc. and this is exactly what I needed.”

During the summer of 2020 when Covid brought everything to a halt, Omri started to become truly depressed without his visits. He had been doing about 12 visits a month and suddenly that all stopped. He already knew a lot of tricks and enjoyed performing, so we went into intense tricks training mode. That summer, Omri earned all 5 of the trick dog titles offered by AKC and now knows over 50 tricks (and is still learning more). Now, when he walks into visits, we are often greeted by “oh, that’s the dog that does all the tricks!” and he is immediately in his element. He puts his whole heart into every visit and is never happier than when he is doing his job.

Thanks again, and thank you for all you do! You are a blessing." ~Karen Cadenhead and Omri

Congratulations to the Adopt A Pet Program Team for completing over 1000 visits! The Adopt A Pet Program was established in February, 2022, by Roberta Schwartz, Vice President of Houston Methodist, to encourage the staff. Thank you for all the smiles you spread throughout the hospital.

Adopt-A-Pet 1,000 visits collage

Faithful Paws was featured in the Rice Business School Magazine!

Paws and Reflect story from Rice Business School Magazine