The Newport 60+ Activity Center is hosting a presentation with Pet Partners of the Oregon Coast on Wednesday, June 29, from 2 to 3 pm People attending will learn about this group’s mission to improve human health and wellbeing through the human-animal bond. Come meet some great animal therapy and their handlers and learn how you can become involved in this program.
Pet Partners teams visit in a wide variety of settings and in various communities across the country and beyond with patients in recovery, people with intellectual disabilities, seniors living with Alzheimer’s, students, veterans with PTSD, people who have experienced crisis events and those approaching end of life.
The following people will be sharing their experiences during this presentation:
• Caroline Spark and Rocket — Caroline Spark is a certified dog behavior consultant, professional dog trainer and co-owner of Instinct Dog Behavior & Training in Portland. With a Ph.D. in psychology and a background in counseling, she has 45 years of experience helping people solve problems, meet learning goals and achieve positive change in their own lives and in the lives of their dogs. She has been involved in Pet Partners of the Oregon Coast for many years, and currently serves as board president. She also leads a training and support group for animal-assisted therapy teams and teams-in-training.
• Lynn Alexanderson and Piper — Lynn Alexanderson and Piper have been involved with Pet Partners of the Oregon Coast since 2018. Piper is a 6-year-old English Lab who has been visiting libraries in Toledo and Cottonwood Heights, Utah. She enjoys having children read to her from her and attending story hours. Alexanderson said, “I’m a retired clinical social worker, have always had dogs in my life, enjoy dog training and wanted to get into pet therapy after retirement.”
• Katharine Harding and Toby — Katharine Harding first learned of Pet Partners 30 years ago. From 2008 until COVID, she was the handler of two registered teams — Karisto and Philia. They visited patients and staff at Shriners in Portland and in Lincoln County at Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital, Lakeview Memory Care and hospice over those 12 years. When her dog, Toby, passes the evaluation and Harding has raised another puppy for a year, she hopes to return to providing therapy visits. “I’ve missed my most favorite volunteer work these last two years,” she said.
• Bonnie Rimola and Riley — Bonnie Rimola and Riley became a pet therapy team in 2000 in Sacramento, California, when she became a Hospice SOUL (source of unconditional love) volunteer. In 2011, Rimola was introduced to Pet Partners at Shriner’s Children’s Hospital and became a registered Pet Partner team to visit the children. In 2016, she retired and moved to Seal Rock, where she and Riley were introduced to Oregon Coast Therapy Animals — now renamed Pet Partners of the Oregon Coast. Currently, she is the executive director and team training coordinator for Pet Partners of the Oregon Coast.
Barb Le Boss and Magic — Barb Le Boss has been a member of Pet Partners of the Oregon Coast for 23 years. She volunteered with her dog, Buddy, for an after-school program in Yachats. There she met Caroline Spark, who introduced Le Boss and Buddy to interactive fun training. They became a registered team in 2012. Currently, Le Boss and her new dog, Magic, are a team in training. “The human animal connection I find to be one of life’s amazing interactions, both for joy and compassion,” she said.
To attend this upcoming presentation at the Newport 60+ Activity Center and learn more about this program, go online at www.newportoregon.gov/sc and click on the banner “Browse the catalog and register.” For more information, stop by the office at 20 SE Second St., Newport, or call 541-265-9617. Find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NewportSeniorActivityCenter.