2004 VAAP Conference
(Virginia Association of Activity Professionals)
Charlottesville, Virginia
Several hundred Activity Directors (and two dogs) attended the 2004 VAAP conference this spring.  Dr. Marie Suthers-McCabe, head of CENTAUR at VA TECH asked Winnie and me to co-present the therapy dog topic with her at the conference that was held at the Charlottesville Omni Hotel.  Dr. Suthers-McCabe is at the top of the line in the animal-human relations world--in fact, she's world-famous for her work in human-animal relations!  I'm really lucky that she wrote the Foreword for my book--and is promoting it in her work.
We checked in with Steve Patras and Tommy DaMitz who made us feel welcome.  Our room was comfy. and the hotel was surrounded by grass, trees and flowers--nice for dog walks.
Although I've e-mailed Dr. Marie a lot, I'd never met her in person before because she came to our house several years ago on the very day I was in the hospital having cancer surgery. Dr. Marie and I had lots to talk about!
Since I would be helping Dr. Marie explain about therapy dogs the next morning, we needed to register with the VAAP officials.
Our sessions were scheduled for 8:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. I wondered if anybody would be in harness by 8 o'clock but I needn't have worried--a lot of activity directors turned up to hear us.
Mom and I did our PowerPoint first. Then Dr. Marie followed up with a much more scholarly talk in which she cited many different studies recently completed which prove how valuable using therapy dogs is in elevating the quality of life in geriatric settings.
At the end of the hour, we answered questions from the audience. It was then that I learned that many long-term care facilities new require their Activity Directors to include therapy dogs in their activities.  Hurrah - at last people are waking up to the benefits we offer!
Because Mom has a hard time getting on the right roads on a trip, our Uncle Sam drove us to Charlottesville. Mom snapped this picture of him at the VAAP buffet table because of the daffodils. He loves daffodils almost as much as I do!
All in all, the week-long conference gave participants a zillion ideas about different activities they could use in their facilities--including ways to use music, crafts, cooking, painting, word games, etc. It makes Winnie and me feel good that dog therapy was on the list!
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