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DAILY NEWS PEOPLE : ABBIE JAYE AND SCOOBY.

Byline: - Andrea Hescheles

The ``dogtor'' is in. When Scooby makes his weekly rounds, his visits bring smiles, laughter and a little bit of healing. Scooby, a German shepherd-yellow Labrador mix, has been volunteering in hospitals, nursing homes and schools most of his life. He visits patients who are recovering from a major illness or surgery.

``Instead of healing a particular part of the body, I like to think of pet therapy as healing the soul,'' said Abbie Jaye, Scooby's owner.

Jaye says that some people are shy, but having an animal present changes the atmosphere for everyone. ``It's so much easier to walk into a patient's room and say, `Hi, I'm your volunteer,' when the dog is the medium of exchange.''

Jaye and Scooby also volunteer at the Juvenile Arthritis Foundation, where Scooby is a ``spokescanine.''

AGE: 39

RESIDENCE: Sherman Oaks.

BORN AND RAISED IN: Born in Chicago; moved to Los Angeles in 1971.

OCCUPATION: Manager of an apartment complex in Sherman Oaks.

MARITAL STATUS: Married to Charles Shrewsbury for four years.

CHILDREN: None.

VOLUNTEERISM: ``Almost 10 years ago, I started visiting residents at the Jewish Home for the Aging with my beloved pet, Scooby. He was only a year old at the time and ... (practicing) to become a certified therapy dog. We volunteered there every Wednesday afternoon for three hours for almost five years. We were then asked to visit rehabilitation patients at Brotman Medical Center, also on Wednesdays, so we worked there for two years. When I got a job in the Valley I wanted to volunteer closer to home, so we now volunteer at St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank every other Saturday and at Sherman Oaks Hospital on Wednesdays.

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED?: ``I come from a medical family and worked as a respiratory therapist in my 20s. I was used to working in a hospital environment, but I never felt any fulfillment in that field. When I read an article about animal-assisted therapy, I knew that here was a career for me. I couldn't find anyone to pay me for doing it so I'm doing it for free, but I've never been happier or had more fun working.''

WHY DO YOU VOLUNTEER?: ``I wish I could tell you it's because I'm an altruistic person who wants to alleviate human suffering. While that may be true to a degree, the fact is that volunteering is really a selfish act. I do it because helping other people makes me feel so good. And I do this particular type of volunteering because, in addition to helping people, I'm also helping animals. Scooby ... was rescued from an abusive situation yet became a certified therapy dog. He is living proof of the healing power of love.''

GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: ``When Scooby and I were part of the rehabilitation team treating a 22-year-old father of two who was shot in the head, a victim of gang violence. He had to learn to do everything again - walk, talk - and he was very depressed about his condition and the slowness of the recuperation process. The only time he would laugh, speak or smile is when Scooby would visit him and help him with his physical therapy. Sometimes animals, because they are nonjudgmental and offer unconditional love, can reach people that are otherwise unreachable.''

GOALS FOR THE FUTURE: ``To have pet therapy be as common a treatment modality as physical therapy, and see more hospitals and schools engaging in these worthwhile programs. Also, to educate people on the importance of spaying and neutering their pets to put an end to pet overpopulation and the thousands of pets that are euthanized each week just in Los Angeles. We also hope to get the chance to volunteer with Scooby at Camp Esperanza, a camp for kids with arthritis in Big Bear.''

CAPTION(S):

Photo

Photo: Abbie Jaye and Scooby visit patient Vera Heideman at Sherman Oaks Hospital. Jaye says Scooby ``is living proof of the healing power of love.''

Phil McCarten/Daily News
COPYRIGHT 1999 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 21, 1999
Words:667
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