Not all volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland walk on two legs. Some have four and are full of furry hugs and slobbery kisses. While our human volunteers bring smiles to the faces of our guests, those smiles shine a little brighter when our animal therapy partners come to visit. From a Yorkie-poo named Stanley Guido to a miniature horse named Dimples, RMH is privileged to have such amazing animal companions visit and play with children and their families at the House during a time when happiness and levity are needed in their lives.
What exactly does it take to become an animal therapist for the Ronald McDonald House? In Stanley Guido’s case, his owner Glen Stout had to take him to 22 weeks of training and administer the lessons at home to make sure they stuck. Stanley was originally found walking the streets of Cleveland by the Cleveland APL as a months old puppy. This is where Glen and his wife Tracy found Stanley Guido and were immediately smitten by his puppy charm.
Once Stanley Guido became certified, Glen and Tracy took him to local nursing homes and hospice at Southwest General. It was during this time that they were introduced to the Ronald McDonald House. Struck with curiosity and wanting to give Stanley Guido a change of scenery, the trio decided to pay the House a visit, and the rest is history. They have since welcomed Rosey, a poodle mix, to the family.
Over three years they have been bringing Stanley Guido and Rosey to the House, the Stouts have seen the growth of guests and families, such as Jenna Beecroft. When they first met Jenna, she was wheelchair bound after being bedridden for a year. In subsequent visits with the dogs, they witnessed Jenna's journey from sitting in a wheelchair to being able to walk and jump.
Tobi, a Labrador retriever, was a guide dog for Max Edelman, a Holocaust survivor who suffered a severe trauma that left him blind in a Nazi concentration camp. Before Max passed away at the age of 91, he ensured that Tobi would have a good home with Sharon Dietrich. Sharon had Tobi certified as a Canine Good Citizen. He also passed the Bright and Beautiful Therapy’s dog test and the University Hospital’s Pet Pal program.
Looking for a way to brighten Tobi’s mood after Max’s passing, Sharon decided to bring him to the Ronald McDonald House to play with children and their families. She and Tobi now come to the House on a regular basis, and Tobi loves being used as a pillow by the littlest guests.
When asked what’s been the most gratifying part of her experience bringing Tobi to the House, Sharon says it’s “getting to see that the kids are not thinking about what’s going on with them. It helps to see them laughing. They enjoy Tobi, and that’s what makes me happy.”
Twelve dogs and one miniature horse brighten the days of our guests. Thank you to all of our furry and friendly animal therapy partners.
Do you have a furry friend who is therapy certified? Contact us!