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Meet the Board
Jane Hirsch - President

Will, Jane and still almost-a-therapy-dog, Ben

It’s scary how fast time goes by! I am into my third year as Therapy Dogs Inc. President and still as passionate about our organization as ever!  I have the absolute best board of directors, past president and office personnel that I could ever hope to work with!

I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, an avid animal lover and serious tennis player.  After college and several stints on the tennis circuit, I resided in Orlando where I remained for 22 years, playing and coaching.  Three bouts of melanoma cancer from 1996 to 1998 caused me to cut back on court time, so I acquired an Australian Shepherd puppy and named him Rafter after Aussie tennis star Patrick Rafter.

In 1999, I moved back to Charleston.  My life revolved around Rafter’s schedule and I was devastated when, at the age of two, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma.  Against all odds, he lived a miraculous seven healthy years before succumbing to the return of osteosarcoma on Christmas Eve, 2008.  During those seven years he visited nursing homes, children’s camps and respites, an oncology practice, and our favorites: the children’s hospitals in Charleston and Augusta, Georgia. Rafter’s passing left a huge hole in my heart, but I look forward to continuing my therapy work through Therapy Dogs Inc. 

As sometimes happens, life throws us a curve ball.  My current therapy dog, Will, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma this summer and although he has lost a leg, he has not lost his spirit.

Speaking of spirit, high - spirited Ben is calming down but his exuberance for life, love and play keeps him at almost- a -therapy -dog!

Many thanks to our Therapy Dogs Inc. family of volunteers!

 
Carroll Colasardo - Vice President

Carroll with Flash - left - and Denali - right

Hello from Mesa, Arizona! I am looking forward to another great year serving on the Therapy Dogs Inc. board.  We’ve had a busy and varied year since last July. Through committee work, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many of our members around the country. The common bond I’ve found is the love of your special therapy dog(s), and your commitment to sharing smiles and joy with others throughout your communities. 

 

I have been a member of Therapy Dogs Inc. since 2002.  Our household consists of six Shetland Sheepdogs, and one cat.  For several years our Shelties were all registered with Therapy Dogs Inc. However, due to age and interests, four have been retired. The remaining Therapy Dogs Inc. members are Denali and Flash.  

 

I visit two local hospitals: Banner Desert Medical Center and Cardon Children’s Medical Center; and with Gabriel’s Angels, an organization whose teams visit children in crisis throughout our state.

 

In 2006, I became a Tester/Observer for Therapy Dogs Inc., and I have worked with many wonderful teams for the last eight years.  I love meeting new people and their varied dogs, and hearing how much they enjoy their many adventures.  Over the years, I’ve also been involved in conformation, obedience, agility and, my favorite, canine freestyle.  We are active in the Mid-Arizona Shetland Sheepdog Club and host a “puppy match” annually to help get the puppies and younger dogs ready for shows.

 

Dog therapy has opened a fascinating chapter of my life!  I enjoy working with the Therapy Dogs Inc. board to promote dog therapy, and to help others gain the immeasurable benefits with which I have been blessed.  

 
Sheryll Barker - Treasurer

Sheryll with Daniel and Daisy

Hi, I’m Sheryll Barker and I’ve had eight dogs registered with Therapy Dogs Inc. over the past twenty-one years. I began with Therapy Dogs Inc. in Albuquerque, NM.    My husband and I, dogs, and one cockatoo moved to Dallas 16 years ago.  In 2003, I teamed up with Barbara Wilson and co-founded the local group, Heart of Texas Therapy Dogs.  This group has now grown to over 170 teams and serves approximately forty facilities ranging from elder care to hospitals to numerous settings with kids.  I currently have two registered therapy dogs.  My “partners” and I generally do four to seven therapy visits a week.

 

Over the years, I have been blessed to work with seven Therapy Dogs Inc. registered collies and one Border Collie mix.   All of my dogs have gone through formal obedience and I have competed in AKC novice, open, and utility, as well as rally. 

 

I have a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences and did lab research for 17 years.  I composed the Therapy Dogs Inc. Zoonotics page years ago for our handbook.  While I am not currently working at the bench, I find my training very useful when working with infectious disease or risk management staff.

 

We do volunteer work in addition to therapy dogs. We are involved in Collie rescue in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and have been a part of rescuing and/or fostering over 100 Collies over the past 12 years.  I am also an avid bird watcher and a zone leader for some Audubon Christmas Bird Counts.      

 
Kelsey Gilmore - Futeral - Secretary

Kelsey with Eddie Jasper

Hey y’all!  My family and I live just outside of Charleston, South Carolina.  I moved to Charleston from South Dakota in 2003 to competitively ride horses in college.  Eddie, my Great Pyrenees/Golden mix and first therapy partner, and I met in 2006 and have been participating in pet therapy since 2007.  Jasper joined the therapy dog ranks several years later, and this year, Murphy became number three of our five-dog rescue pack to be registered. 

 

My passion for large dogs began in fourth grade when my family purchased a Newfoundland puppy.  My parents slowly accumulated large dogs, and now when we visit their acreage in South Dakota, we also enjoy the company of their two Great Pyrs, two Newfs, and a Great Pyr-St. Bernard mix.  My passion for small dogs began when I met my husband, Stephan, and his daughter Maddie, who introduced me to their Yorkie mix, Bailey.  Now, a Pekingese (Jasper), a flat-coat pound-puppy (Murphy), and a Japanese Chin (Pixel) later, we are a happy ‘little’ family.  My passion for all animals began early in life, and in my spare time I focus my energy on animal rescue, animal welfare laws, and vegan cooking.  Stephan and I also practice law together.

 

Eddie, Jasper, Murphy, Stephan and I regularly visit two assisted living facilities.  We also attend annual walks for causes, such as autism and multiple sclerosis.  Pixel is our next therapy hopeful, and she is working on her people skills on a daily basis at our law firm in the ‘canine’ resources department.  Maddie is now twelve and is working up to testing as a junior handler.

 

Thank you all for sharing your wonderful fur-children with people in need!

 
Dede Brownstein - Director

Cole, Dede and Elke

Greetings from The Land of Enchantment.  I have been a proud member of Therapy Dogs Inc. for over 20 years and have served on the board for 12.  I’ve experienced many changes in our organization during that time – all for the better!  We have improved our website and are using social media to attain more of our organization’s goals, including communication with you, our members.

 

My Rottweilers, Cole and Elke, continue to visit at the juvenile detention center in Albuquerque where I began a responsible dog ownership program over 14 years ago with my first therapy Rottweiler, Einstein.  Elke also visits at the Heart Hospital and acts as my neutral dog during new member testing.


Elke had quite the year.  She finished her Grand Championship last October and earned her UD title in just five shows in February.  Then Elke took a break to have a litter.  She had nine puppies, so we were both kept quite busy for several months.  All are doing well in their new homes, and Elke is working on getting back into shape so that she can begin competing in obedience again in the fall.

 

I wish you all the best of health and happiness as you continue to bring joy to everyone you visit!

 
Jan Cloutier - Director

Jan with Max, Shultz, Loki and Fenton

Greetings from the Garden State!   I’m Jan.   Originally from Maryland, I live here in Southern New Jersey with my husband and four dogs.   I’ve been a volunteer puppy raiser for the Seeing Eye® for over 14 years, and have raised 12 puppies.  I now have “canine kids” working as guide dogs in over half a dozen states.  I also have many “canine grandkids” out there working, as two of the puppies I raised were chosen as “the best of the best” for breeding.   For the last 11 years I have served as co-leader of the Gloucester County Seeing Eye® Puppy Raisers.   Naturally, I always have a new puppy around the house, along with doggy visitors and resident canine boarders.  The neighborhood has made my backyard the local dog park.

Schultz, my “mini golden,” is my current partner in therapy work.  Dropped from the Seeing Eye program due to bowed legs, he is a master of charm, spreading joy and smiles.  We are members of our local Paws for the Soul pet therapy group, and I am co-founder of Paws of Joy, our church’s therapy dog ministry.  Along with these, we make individual visits to hospitals, support groups and any other place Schultz can get his paw in the door.

July 2014 marks the beginning of my third year serving on your Board of Directors, and I have to say, it is with great pleasure that I do so.  There has been much to learn, and still much to do.  This is a wonderful organization, and the best thing I like about being on the board is the opportunity to meet so many of you, in person and on line.  Your dedication to our mission is awe-inspiring.  Your dogs and your stories are unique and magical. 

Now, from my canine cohort and me, we wish you all the best in this next year.  Happy visiting!
 
Pat Coglianese - Director

Pat and Jessie

Greetings from New York.  I live in a suburb about 25 miles from Manhattan and so have the best of both worlds: access to Manhattan and the peace of the suburbs.

 

I have been an educator all my life.  Initially, I taught in the New York City public school system and then moved on to the corporate world and became the director of education for a global financial services institution.  When I was ready for a change of pace, I studied and became a dog trainer, formally applying my education expertise with my love and knowledge of dogs to this new career. I now train people to train their dogs. I am also an evaluator for several service dog foundations and a Tester/Observer for Therapy Dogs Inc.

 

Working closely with dogs really opened my eyes to the benefits that dogs bring to people, both emotionally and physically.  That started me on my journey working with therapy dogs. My dog Jessie, a German Shepherd Dog, was released from an organization that trained guide dogs for the blind.  She was just not focused enough to succeed.  She was then adopted by a convent of nuns, who wanted a dog to protect them from intruders. She, once again, failed because she loves people and other dogs. She is now mine and we have found our niche in therapy work. 

 

Jessie and I have much in common.  We have both found our place, bringing emotional support through our work with Therapy Dogs Inc. We now visit the United States Military Academy at West Point with soldiers, special needs children of deployed soldiers and even the cadets who need to de-stress after finals.  We also visit local nursing homes and a school for special needs children.

 

As much joy as Jessie brings to others, we get even more back from doing the work.  I am proud to be a member of the board of directors. I enjoy making a contribution to this wonderful organization that has helped improve the lives of so many people. 

 
Peggy Grookett - Director

Peggy with Ben, Cody, Hunter, and Jenny

Hello from Philadelphia, home of the Liberty Bell!  I am Peggy, and my clan consists of Beagles Gentle Ben - 15, Cody - 14, Labrador Joyful Jenny - 4, and the newest addition, Happy Hunter, who turned one in July.  Hunter was born on the day my beloved husband, Jim, passed away (July 2, 2013), and I think Jim sent him to me to make me smile!

 

Ben retired from active duty, but still works with me as my tester dog. Cody has also cut back his hours, and is looking forward to retirement soon.  The youngsters, Jenny and Hunter, have taken over visiting the hospital, hospice unit and several nursing homes, and they have some pretty big paws to fill!

 

Jenny competes in obedience and rally and after a medical leave of absence this year due to cruciate ligament surgery, she is back in competition.  Hunter enrolled in a year-long performance puppy program, and is trained through utility, but he needs more practice until he is ready to compete. Hunter is also learning agility, and if I can keep up with him, we will compete!

 

It is an honor to sit on your board and serve with other fantastic board members! I am looking forward to another fantastic year and growing our membership!

 
Keith Pettway - Director

Keith with J.J. and Abby

Greetings from the flatlands of the Mississippi Delta. I have just finished my first year on the Therapy Dogs Inc. board and attended my second meeting. What a learning curve! I am starting to feel more relaxed in my job. This is a hard working group who love what they do and are very dedicated to dog therapy. I have enjoyed everything I have done connected to the board.

My dog history started fairly late in life. I was a professor of music and a performing classical flutist. My life seemed to be so busy that it would not be fair to try and have a dog fit into it. I have always been a dog lover, but never owned one in my adult life. When I was about to retire, my wife put out an ultimatum: it’s time to get a dog, or else. After much research we decided a standard poodle would fit our life. My first reaction was “What? A poodle?” But after eight years with J.J. it turned out to be the right choice. He is now my Therapy Dogs Inc. registered therapy dog. J.J. was joined four years later by his half-sister Abby, who is my personal therapy dog. She is very loving but becomes excited about new people and new dogs. After some hard work, Abby is doing well and is about to be tested to become therapy dog number two. Wish us luck. Even as a board member, the process of testing a new dog makes me a little nervous.


I came to pet therapy by accident. My mother had to be moved into an Alzheimer unit, and I started to take J.J. to visit when he was quite young. When I started to see wonderful reactions from my mother and other residents, I knew there was more to this than I had imagined. After researching pet therapy, J.J. and I became registered as a therapy dog team. We now make over a hundred visits a year to all kinds of facilities.

We live in a very under-served area when it comes to therapy dogs. We have been working hard to get others involved in Therapy Dogs Inc., and at last we are starting to make some real progress getting Mississippi on the radar as a Therapy Dogs Inc. state. We now have our second T/O in the state! I am deeply honored to serve Therapy Dogs Inc. I want to thank each and every one of you for all the “Smiles and Joy” you share every day.
 
Stacy Plummer - Director

Stacy with Diezel
Hello to everyone from the Pacific Northwest, specifically the beautiful state of Oregon where I live with my wife, Brandy, and seven active children. I feel especially fortunate for the opportunity to work with a great group of people who hold the same passion for dogs as do I.

I have been working with and training dogs, both purebreds and mixed breeds, for the past twenty-four years. I became a Therapy Dogs Inc. member in March 2003, and in July 2004 became a Tester/Observer. I also co-founded a local therapy group where my own dog and I enjoyed the experience of visiting hospitals, nursing homes, local centers for abused children, daycares, elementary schools and our local juvenile detention center. In addition to therapy work, I am the founder of the Northwest Mastiff Breeds Rescue, and I volunteer with other rescue organizations. I have also established a Canine Crisis Response Team working with the local county school district.

I retired my therapy dog Simba about four years ago, and shortly after that, faced losing him as he came to the end of a full life. I’m looking forward to registering our newest family member, Diezel, a three year old Presa Canario whom we rescued from “death row.”

I thoroughly enjoy the experiences I have had volunteering with my dogs in the community and my time as a Tester/Observer. I look forward to many years ahead serving on the board and working with therapy dogs in our community.
 
Jeanette Sinohui - Director

Jeanette Sinohui with Rata

Hi!  I’m Jeanette Sinohui, a native of Phoenix, Arizona where Rata and I serve the patients and families in the same hospital where I was born: Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center.

After 28 years, I retired from teaching, and because of my precious dog Rata, I have found a whole new career.  I am beginning my second year as a member of the board for Therapy Dogs Inc.  Not only has this last year been simply wonderful but through serving this incredible organization, I have learned to negotiate an airport and a strange city on my own.  Seriously!  

All kidding aside, being on the board of this organization has given me insights which have further driven my passion for safety in dog therapy and have increased my desire to continue to improve the program at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center and programs all over the country.  I have learned the importance of listening to the handlers and of improving communication with dog therapy teams.  I have also gained a much broader perspective on the importance of dog therapy through the many people I have had the privilege to get to know throughout this past year.

My sweet dog, Rata, is now semi-retired from Gabriel’s Angels but still goes to a school where students read to her. She still visits patients, families and staff at Banner Good Samaritan, where I serve as the volunteer dog therapy team leader.  I continue to relax by playing golf.  I look forward to this coming year and feel even more privileged to sit on this board because I now have a greater appreciation for the exciting things that the year will bring!

 
Kim Williams - Director

Kim with Penny

Hello from Kearney, Nebraska!

My
name is Kim Williams, and I am excited to continue my journey on the board of directors.  My retired partner is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Penny.  We became a team in 2006.  I also have a wonderful, one year-old Bernese Mountain Dog named Rowen and his best friend, a mix breed named Finnegan. Someday they will continue the fine work that Penny did. 

I am fortunate that Kearney is a dog-loving community.  We go not only to the local hospital, but also to the local psychiatric hospital, cancer center, library, several nursing homes and assisted living facilities, reading programs and numerous community events.  One of our favorite events is held each year in July, Camp Bear, a grief camp for children who have lost a family member sometime during the previous year.  This can be a difficult but truly rewarding day.

I became a tester/observer in 2009 because I believe so strongly in the mission of Therapy Dogs Inc. I love encouraging others to participate in pet therapy, and I love education! It does not matter if the subject is the history of animal assisted activities, dog safety or how to be a good pet owner. 
I love to talk about it because it gives me the opportunity to share my passions and grow in my own education.

I thoroughly enjoy every aspect of pet therapy and look forward to continuing to serve on the board.

 
Teri Meadows - Past President

Teri and Mickey, a future hopeful therapy dog

Teri Meadows, Therapy Dogs Inc. President 1992 to 2012


I have been with Therapy Dogs Inc. for so long it is part of me - part of my life and part of my family. Along with having 11 therapy dogs over the years, my many memories with the organization began in 1990 when the founder, Jack Butrick, told me that he wanted to start Therapy Dogs Inc. and honored me with a request to be his vice president.  My dog, Rocky, was the first American Pit Bull Terrier to be a registered therapy dog with Therapy Dogs Inc. and was one of the three dogs used in the original logo; he was the dog being hugged by a child. Less than two years after starting Therapy Dogs Inc., the sudden passing of Jack in 1992, required me to step up as president and continue this young organization.  I knew a great deal of time, effort and strength would be needed to bring it to its full potential. Some of our achievements include:  a standard test and Tester/Observers for prospective members; official rules and regulations written in published handbooks; an informative DVD about pet therapy and Therapy Dogs Inc.; a beautiful publication in the Therapy Dogs Inc. News Magazine; and a Therapy Dogs Inc. website and Facebook page.  There are so many accomplishments over the years for this grand organization that began so small and has grown to be so large!

If there is anything I have learned from being president of Therapy Dogs Inc. for 20 years, it is to have strength when needed, to always have patience and to go for anything that you feel is worthwhile deep in your heart.  The time you spend will bring you great satisfaction and happiness. I could not have been as successful as president without the support, strength and dedication of the Therapy Dogs Inc. officers, directors and, of course, our membership.

I do not miss all the work, but I do miss the friendships I have made through Therapy Dogs Inc. I know that each of us really LOVES sharing our special dogs with others. True happiness only comes through sharing. Never let that end! If more people were like all of you, there would be more smiles, more adventures and more love in the world; there would be more dreams flying free, more hearts that could feel and share love, more laughing, more sharing and more understanding that life’s greatest gifts are friendship, love and sharing unlimited kindness with others.

Each moment in life is a precious gift. Hold on tight to your special dogs and cherish each day you have with them. Treat them with kindness; give them your love and the gift of good health. Keep them forever close to your heart. May all your days be touched with sunshine and your heart overflow with love. May everything in your life sparkle with a radiance that comes only from happiness. May you always walk in beauty among loved ones and friends.