Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Therapy Dogs

Since Dr. Jerry Von Talge retired from his multi-faceted profession as a trial consultant, expert witness, psychotherapist, minister, and writer, he has been very involved in volunteer work.

One of his passions is to work with animals and he volunteers with the Irvine Animal Shelter, including taking new dog photos weekly for their website. He also volunteers with the Orange County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OCSPCA), which includes PAWS therapy dog visitations to various facilities.

“PAWS” stands for “Pets Are Wonderful Support.” Jerry's wife Jean (a retired trial attorney) became a PAWS volunteer about a year ago. They have two therapy dogs: Tzu (“Sue”) Ling, a Shih Tzu, and Bella, a Shih poo. They brought Sue in to demonstrate her skills on stage!

The Director of PAWS gave an overview of their Program, which has 100 dog teams that work primarily with the elderly in nursing homes, and hospitalized children (25 facilities in all). They also participate in elementary school reading programs.

The President of the OCSPCA provided information on how dogs are selected for this program - several of them (like Sue) came from the Irvine Animal Shelter.

Jerry and Jean have been volunteers for the new UC Irvine Center for Diabetes Treatment & Research since 2004. Dogs have a unique ability to detect subtle changes in human behavior that can signal low blood sugar, heart attacks, seizures, etc. Jerry also does grant writing, promotional materials, photography and newsletter articles for the Center.

There is new and promising work being done in the areas of autism, so dogs truly are a man's best friend. Jerry left us with the thought "Change someone else's life and maybe you will change your own." Certainly that is what we aim to do in Rotary!