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.
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!
MEET MAJOR’S FAMILY The Craft family – parents George and Emily, and their children, Caroline, 13, and George, 10 – includes a 6-year-old Golden Retriever named Major. He 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 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.