If you attended RIMS 2018 last week, chances are you were smiling in the conference hall. The Therapy Animals of San Antonio were our guests in the RIMS WellnessZENter as our designated charity this year. Their mission of bringing people and animals together for healing came to life this week. I watched people go past the WellnessZENter, look in, keep walking and then the magnetic appeal of a furry four legged friend led them back and smiles immediately came to tired faces. Just like our therapy animals, we had a diverse stream of visitors who were eagerly petting the animals, laughed and got wet kisses from their new friends.
“This is the best RIMS ever because we have dogs to pet!”
“I really needed this and I feel so much better.”
“You will have the animals again next year in Boston right?”
These were just some of the many quotes we heard from RIMS attendees commenting on the positive impact of interacting with therapy animals. As attendees interacted with Bonnie, Bailey and Zeus, they heard Virginia Baba from Petsmart talk about the value of animals in the workplace. She also addressed many questions about creating and writing policies to have pets in the workplace. Virginia felt that the positives far outweighed the negatives if you take the proper steps.
I was proud once again that while Sedgwick wanted to show that “we are here,” our theme for the week, we also wanted to look back and say we are still there. A check for $10,000 was presented to the Therapy Animals of San Antonio to support their mission of using animals for healing. Bailey, a crowd favorite, was trained to work with burn victims and has been trained to not put his paws on anyone but to offer up kisses instead to avoid accidently hurting the patient and yet creating a healing bond with that person while they recover. They visit hospitals, schools, nursing homes and work with PTSD veterans, just to name a few of the many ways therapy animals can bring a positive outcome. In addition to the dogs, they also have therapy cats! Our own Dr. Bartlett also addressed the crowd on the topic of alternative pain management.
I think I can speak for my colleagues and for the hundreds who stopped by the RIMS WellnessZENter that we were all better for the experience. Travel and hectic work days on the road can be draining – everyone agreed they felt rejuvenated and happier after just a few minutes petting and playing with our furry friends. Best of all, our contribution will be felt for years to come through a cold nose, a wet kiss and soft furry coats being petted, and knowing that when that happens we will smile.
As always we encourage you to learn more about the Therapy Animals of San Antonio; or find a local organization to contribute to or become a certified therapy animal team with your furry family member. If you would like to see more photos click here.
Jonathan Mast, Director Social Media