Tag Archives: Rim of the World Comfort Pets

Comfort Dogs Train Aboard sbX Rapid Transit

sbX riders in San Bernardino and Loma Linda were accompanied by some uncommon, but pleasant fellow passengers last week –  well-behaved comfort dogs who just wanted to brighten up someone’s day. And they did, for passengers and drivers alike!

A dozen adorable comfort dogs of all sizes, along with their handlers, met at the sbX Park & Ride on Palm and Kendall in north San Bernardino to explore the public transit environment. The ride took them to the south end of the sbX Green Line at the VA hospital to help the volunteer dogs become familiar with different scenarios that they may encounter in their work.

Rim of the World Comfort Pets, based out of San Bernardino County, is an organization that aims to promote health and improve the quality of life for individuals through animal-human interactions, animal-assisted activities, and therapy. Certified therapy animals work to “help heal individuals, elevate the professional standards in the therapy animal field, and promote the general cause of volunteerism,” according to the organization’s website.

“None of us in this group have been on the bus before. It has been about four years since we’ve been on Omnitrans. This is new to us, and we’re really excited and thankful that Omnitrans has allowed us to do this.” said Catherine Walker, a volunteer with the group who coordinated the training. “Those already certified to do work at the VA hospital currently park at the Park & Ride lot on Redlands Blvd. and ride sbX, so this is great practice for that.”

To become a certified comfort animal, dogs go through a training process in which they are familiarized with all environments where they may practice their work, including elevators, around statues, and of course, on buses. This exercise helped put the dogs at ease in large moving vehicles and around new people.

Ginger, a miniature Schnauzer, received the Pet Hero award in 2017 by the Humane Society of San Bernardino Valley. This year, another Rim of the World Comfort Pets dog was named Pet Hero 2018 – a golden retriever named Chelsea.

“This is great training because the environments that we go into have people on crutches, or wheelchairs, or making noises, so this teaches the dogs to not be scared by that because it’s not something that they may otherwise be exposed to every day,” explains Philip G. who was accompanied by his one-year-old labradoodle, Beau. Beau has already been certified, but still joins trainings – just for fun!

This was Beau’s first time on a bus, and he was a natural! “He loves to go for rides in the car, and this is basically a larger, noisier car!” said Philip.

The dogs and their handlers can be seen visiting veterans at local hospitals, in nursing homes for the elderly, and in elementary school classrooms throughout San Bernardino County, where they help children hone their reading skills by reading to a dog. This eases the pressure of reading to a teacher or a parent.

“Kids read more freely,” explains Catherine. “They’re more interested when reading to a dog versus an adult who may interject and correct their reading. From the kids’ programs, to working with the men and women who serve our country, there is a wide range of people that we interact with.”

For Beatrice’s owner, Deborah B., volunteering with Rim of the World Comfort Pets is a way of giving back after having moved to Rancho Cucamonga from New Hampshire. When her daughter was sick in the hospital, she recalls comfort dogs coming to visit and noticeably enhancing her child’s mood and quality of life during a taxing time.

Beatrice, a Basset Hound, is undergoing training to become a certified therapy dog in the coming weeks. Those puppy dog eyes will melt any dog lover’s heart!

“Our daughter would light up when the dogs came to visit,” says Deborah. “Ever since then, we’ve wanted to get involved. Beatrice has the right energy for this type of work, and we knew she was the right fit to help make a positive impact on sick children. We’re looking forward to going out and working with kids once Beatrice is certified.”

“The best part has been seeing Beau mature and be able to participate,” says Philip G. “We go to a lot of nursing homes where the elderly look forward to holding the dogs as well as to the VA where the vets really appreciate the dogs. To watch the people light up when we visit is pretty special.”

View more photos of the comfort dogs on the bus on Flickr. To support or learn more about Rim of the World Comfort Pets, visit them online.

Therapy dogs climb aboard sbX

Passengers boarding one of our sbX buses last week enjoyed a ride-along with a dozen therapy dogs from Rim of the World Comfort Pets. The dogs were all different breeds, sizes, and personalities but they all had one goal: to bring a smile to people’s faces.

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After their initial surprise, riders had fun interacting with the dogs, talking with handlers and taking selfies to share with their friends. To their delight, they found that each dog had its own business card with its photo and story. When meeting a new person, the dog would touch a paw to the card to “autograph” and share it with them.

Each therapy dog has his own business card with name, bio & handler's name.

Each therapy dog has his own business card with name, bio & handler’s name.

As passengers got off at their stops, we asked them how they had enjoyed their trip.

“Best ride ever,” grinned one young man. “I wish every bus ride was like this!”

Handler Nancy with Biscuit. Bicuit is a Saint Bernard, Siberian Husky mix who thinks she’s a lapdog, She has one blue eye and one brown which gives her a distinctive look.

Comfort Pets CEO Linda Smith told us that they get that reaction a lot. “Even the grumpiest people break into a smile when they see the dogs,” she laughed. “They’re irresistible.”

Bernese Mountain dog Emma loves hiking, swimming, kayaking and paddleboarding. She also likes to glam up her look with a pair of sunglasses. Cockapoo Wallie loves frisbee and playing ball. He's also a great cuddler.

Bernese Mountain dog Emma loves hiking, swimming, kayaking and paddleboarding. She also likes to glam up her look with a pair of sunglasses. Cockapoo Wallie loves frisbee, going for walks and playing ball. He’s also a great cuddler and kisser.

According to their website at www.comfortpets.org, a therapy dog’s primary job is to make positive physical contact with individuals in need of comfort.

The animals are often hugged, petted, brushed, talked to, or simply sit on a person’s lap. Many dogs perform small tricks for those they visit; or even play carefully structured games. The dogs and their handlers provide comfort and therapeutic kindness in medical, social service, and educational settings.

In addition to being a therapy dog, Savannah is trained to alert handler Bob when his blood sugar spikes.

In addition to being a therapy dog, Savannah is trained to alert handler Bob when his blood sugar spikes. She also adores motorcycle rides!

Some of the therapy dogs perform specific services for their handlers as well. Savannah, a French Brittany, has been trained to alert handler Bob Bernier to changes in his blood sugar levels.

“I’m diabetic,” he explained. “And Savannah has an incredible sense of smell. When she picks up a spike in my blood sugar, she alerts me by running in a circle.”

You can't help but smile when you look at Dobby. This funny little pug loves to eat and enjoys a good game of fetch or tug-of-war.

You can’t help but smile when you look at Dobby. This funny little pug loves to eat and enjoys a good game of fetch or tug-of-war.

Bob chuckled. “As part of her training, I always reward her with a treat. One day she began running in circles, but when I checked my blood sugar it was normal. I thought she was just trying to get a treat. But 30 minutes later, my blood sugar spiked. She picked up on the change before the machine did!”

He leaned down to scratch her ears, “Savannah’s pretty amazing. She also loves riding on the back of my motorcycle every chance she gets. I’ve rigged a special harness for her. She definitely turns a lot of heads!”

Adorable Annie loves people of all ages. Whenever handler Kurt goes out, she likes to hitch a ride on his scooter.

Adorable Annie lloves people of all ages. Whenever handler Kurt goes out, she likes to hitch a ride on his scooter.

Annie, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, is handler Kurt Kauffman’s service dog as well as a therapy dog. She has traveled all over the country with him since 2006, visiting schools and hospitals. The joyful little dog loves to cuddle and hitch a ride on Kurt’s scooter.

Several of the dogs and handlers also volunteer regularly at the Loma Linda VA Hospital, and were very excited to ride sbX for the first time.

Labradoodle Elliot is a sweet little girl who became a therapy dog when she was just 11 months old. She loves playing with other dogs or chewing on a favorite toy.

Labradoodle Elliot became a therapy dog when she was just 11 months old. This sweet little girl loves cuddling with people, playing with other dogs or chewing on a favorite toy.

“This is fantastic,” said handler Carolyn Richie, who was on board with her Labradoodle Elliot. “It’s really comfortable, the air conditioning is great, and the layout is perfect. There’s a lot of room under the seats for a dog to stretch out. I think I’m going to start leaving my car at the Palm and Kendall park and ride and take sbX to the VA. It’s takes about as long to ride sbX as it does to drive, and this way I don’t have to worry about trying to find a parking spot. It also gives us a chance to meet new people!”

At the end of each quarter or semester, the therapy dogs visit CSUSB, Chaffey College and University of Redlands to help soothe faculty, students and staff during finals.

At the end of each quarter or semester, the therapy dogs visit CSUSB, Chaffey College and University of Redlands to help soothe faculty, students and staff during finals.

At the end of each quarter or semester, teams from Comfort Pets visit college campuses at CSUSB, Chaffey College and University of Redlands. Their P.A.W.S. (Pet Away Worries & Stress) event is designed to help soothe students, faculty & staff during finals.

Ginger looks into your eyes and understands what you say. She loves everyone, and will dance the Salsa, rollover and shake for a treat.

Ginger looks into your eyes and understands what you say. She loves everyone, and will dance the Salsa, rollover and shake for a treat.

According to Carlos Carrio, CSUSB’s Health and Wellness Coordinator, “Studies have shown it reduces blood pressure, reduces stress and it reduces cortisol levels.”

Wherever they go,  therapy dogs make people smile and feel good.

Wherever they go, therapy dogs make people smile and feel good.

“When you see your dog change a person’s life, it’s very rewarding,” said Linda Smith. “There’s a magic in these dogs that makes people laugh, relax and feel good. You can literally see the difference. It makes you a better person–happier and healthier. And it’s all free of charge!”

Siberian Husky Rusty was a rescue dog that chose Ron to be his new owner. His gentle, loving and and friendly nature makes him new friends wherever he goes.

Siberian Husky Rusty was a rescue dog that chose Ron to be his new owner. His gentle, loving and friendly nature makes him new friends wherever he goes.

For more photos of the therapy dogs on sbX, visit our Flickr album.

Want to meet the therapy dogs in person? Their next public appearance is on August 1st from 9-11 a.m., where they will be participants at a Teachers’ Breakfast event hosted by the Office Depot on Hospitality Lane. Enjoy prizes, special sales  and make some new furry friends!

You can learn more about Comfort Pets and how therapy dogs are making a difference in people’s lives, by visiting their website at www.comfort pets.org.

– Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

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Comfort Pets therapy teams

Comfort Pets therapy teams