As Tessa Puma continues to recover from an infection that resulted in the amputation of one of her legs, animals with special needs have helped her every step of the way.
Doggie Brigade handler Chris Witschey and her 3 dogs have been at her side throughout her recovery, and their assistance is especially important now, as Tessa begins to learn how to use a prosthetic leg. Gracie, Handsome and Francis love to work with all of our patients, and Tessa is no exception.
“Gracie only has 3 legs and Handsome is deaf, so our patients relate to their special needs and seem to love them even more because of it,” said Witschey. “It is a honor to share my dogs and help these kids during their therapy.”
Rudy, a 3-legged Golden retriever handled by Julie Parton, also works with patients like Tessa. Rudy sports a prosthetic leg, too.
“Rudy just naturally loves therapy work. He has a way of bring out the best in our patients. That’s why we call him Rudy the Rock Star,” said Parton. Rudy wore a special red ribbon today because he knows how much Tessa likes bows!
Petie the Pony, a half Shetland/half miniature pony, has been bringing smiles to our patients for 20 years, and Tessa is no exception. He’s made several visits to see Tessa bedside during her stay at the hospital. Today was such a nice day, Tessa did her therapy outside and enjoyed taking a rest in the sun with Petie in our park.
Petie is handled by Victory Gallop, a therapeutic riding center in Bath Township. He has a pink halter on in honor of Tessa’s signature hair bows.
Turranna Rice, a physical therapy assistant, loves incorporating the dogs into Tessa’s therapy. She says she believes the dogs not only make therapy more fun but also help motivate kids to work harder and focus on their goals.