In January of 2009, we lost our beloved lab-mix named Lizzy to bloat and immediately set out to fill the void with another “rescued pet.” We turned to Stray Rescue of St. Louis and quickly fell in love with “Missy,” (you knew her as “Kissie”) a loveable 5+ year old Flat-Coated Retriever mix-breed who was being fostered by Christy Neuhoff and was looking for a new home. “How could you not simply take this dog home with you?” I asked my wife, as we saw this picture posted on the Stray Rescue website:
Once we got Missy home, we quickly learned that she was a “love sponge” who simply soaked up love and attention and had a heart of pure gold. It was Anne who first had the idea to put that trait to good use, “I wonder if she would be a good candidate to become a ‘Therapy Dog’,” she mused, so Jim set about to make it happen.
After an initial evaluation by a behavioral training specialist and a completion of a general obedience class, we enrolled her in a specialized Therapy Dog Training Class, hosted by the St. Charles Chapter of “Love-on-a-Leash,” a national organization dedicated to pet therapy (www.loveonaleash.org).
Missy did exceptionally well and quickly completed her mandatory ten supervised evaluation visits to a variety of nursing homes in St. Charles County and a Ronald McDonald house in St. Louis.
Since graduation, in December, 2010, she is a fully certified Therapy Dog” and makes visits to nursing homes, libraries, schools, and hospitals around the local area to bring some smiles and comfort to people that need a bit of that love she is so full of and now, thanks to this article, will be famous for!
Since 2011 we have sort of specialized in two venues: Mercy Hospital on Ballas road, where she visits The Children’s Hospital every Thursday in the Outpatient Surgery Center, Test & Treatment Area and the In-patient floor, including the Pediatric ICU. On Fridays, we visit a school in St. Charles that organized a pet therapy class for Autistic children. The reaction of these special children to these “non-judgmental playmates” is amazing. One of the non-verbal little boys, who virtually ifnored the dogs for the first six months, now interscts with them on a weekly basis. After living in his silent world for many years, his first spoken word was, “Doggie!”
A special thanks to Stray Rescue of St. Louis for making this opportunity possible by saving Missy (who had been a runaway, picked up by the animal control group) from a fate that I don’t want to even think about and to Christy Neuhoff for fostering her and making her available for us to adopt and cherish.
The moral of this story is simple. In this era committed to recycling, don’t forget that pets can be “recycled” too….and often turned into something they didn’t even know they were capable of.
-Jim and Annie Fischer, Kissie's adopter
The Welcome Home segment is all about showcasing the amazing transformation that occurs when a companion animal is adopted and brought into a loving home. Not only do we enrich their lives, but they also enrich our own lives and the lives of our families beyond measure. There are countless heartwarming stories to tell, and we want the whole world to know just how much better life can be with an adopted dog or cat by your side.