Katee enjoys volunteering at Phoenix Children’s Hospital with her Maltese Therapy Dogs Coco and Cici.

In this 55th episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I spoke with Katee about her experiences volunteering with her Maltese Therapy Dogs Coco and Cici. When her youngest daughter started college, Katee knew that she wanted to volunteer at Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH) so she started out as a therapy animal escort to decide if it was the right fit for Coco to join her.

Spoiler alert: She decided it was.

Along the way, Katee learned which questions she needed to ask to be sure that volunteering at PCH, or even as a pet therapy team, was a good fit for Coco, and later Cici. We discuss some of the questions that she asked to feel prepared as well as things you may not have considered asking including whether or not the organization accepts titer testing—an important factor for Katee and her very small dogs.

If you’re ready to learn more about Katee’s experience volunteering with Coco and Cici, let’s dive in:

In this episode, we discuss …

  • Why Katee began volunteering as an escort for other therapy animal teams.
  • What she and her dogs enjoy the most about volunteering together.
  • What questions you might want to ask before getting started.

Key moments you won’t want to miss:

  • [01:30] Katee gives me a quick primer on how to tell Coco and Cici, her two Maltese dogs, apart.
  • [02:12] Katee shares how she started volunteering at Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH) as a therapy animal escort before moving forward with registering her own dogs.
  • [03:40] In their onboarding, PCH requires new volunteers to go through an online training where they discuss different departments available to volunteers—including pet therapy.
  • [04:36] Coco and Cici responded differently to training and Katee shares what that looked like for each of them.
  • [05:22] Katee shares what it was about Coco’s personality that let her know she would be a good fit for therapy work.
  • [06;02] Volunteering isn’t new for Katee as she was always involved with her daughters’ schools and dance teams but when they began college she needed a new avenue for volunteering. She knew that PCH was where she wanted to get involved as she had already been contributing to their work through fundraising and events.
  • [06:38] Katee reflects on how parents have told her what an impact her dogs have made on their child’s day or how they’ve improved their recovery time.
  • [07:50] Going virtual was difficult for Katee’s dogs but they were able to make it work so that they could continue to help the children at PCH.
  • [08:33] Coco’s favorite trick is Sit Pretty and she will start performing it immediately when placed in a child’s bed.
  • [08:49] Katee talks about how while there are moments that are sad, to see the impact they are able to make on these kids and their families and the way they can shift the mood in the room makes it worth it.
  • [09:17] Katee emphasizes that becoming a Therapy Dog team can be a lot of work but that eventually it’s worth it.
  • [10:11] We get a quick run down of Coco and Cici’s 2022 Halloween costumes as killer beeds and Carlos and the tiger from the Hangover.
  • [10:37] Katee mentions how she asked a lot of questions before she got started bringing her dogs to PCH so she felt prepared and knew what to expect with them.
  • [11:15] Katee reflects on how she thinks it would be really cool to volunteer at the aiport but that it wouldn’t be the right environment for her dogs.
  • [11:30] We dig into some of the questions Katee asked before volunteering and she mentions that she may switch therapy organizations when it’s time to re-evaluate as it’s important to her to do titer testing for her dogs when possible and not all organizations accept them in lieu of annual vaccines but PCH does.

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I do. Give it a watch or a listen and then let me know in the community which part you found the most helpful!

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Therapy Dog Talk is a podcast where I interview a different team each week via Instagram Live. If you enjoyed this episode please find us over at Apple, Google, or Spotify and give us a follow after you leave a review.

Do you know someone who would make a great guest? Be sure to reach out and let me know.

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