A historical set-up to success.
This story started a ways back at one of our other Pet Partner training courses. It was a memorable class for several reasons. One, we were disappointed by the numbers that had interest in taking the time to understand the animal-human bond in the Des Moines area. The gloom was short lived as the four attendees had more then a great deal of interest in the field of Animal Assisted Therapy.
So for the second point, each were professionals in professional fields and brought as much to our experience as be were able to provide back to them. One had traveled down from the Mayo Clinic, another came to us from Iowa city and she was using this course to boost her PHD thesis, she was studying and documenting the effects of AAT on teams in a literacy program, one was formerly with FEMA and had experience a great deal of knowledge of adversity. As the count would have it I did mention there were four in this class.
We were struggling with the idea of only having three for the class that day and dealing with the amount of time it takes to train three, the financial cost of hosting this for only three. We have already invested a great deal of money in our Des Moines dog programs and had a difficult time deciding were we needed to cut our losses financially. We (my wife and I) discussed canceling the course until we could get more interest. The final person was someone that had contacted us late in the week and expressed an especially enthusiastic interest in animal assisted therapy. This person was Chris Montross. How could you turn that down. She was bubbly and you could tell by the tone of her voice, she shared the same passion for others as we do.
We couldn't and honestly cancel the class, we didn't want to disappoint anyone that has the interest.
I could go on and on about everyone there that day but the one person that really stood out was this Chris person. Let me tell you that I haven't ever met a real live clown. No really, she mentioned it in the opening and I couldn't let it go. As a matter of a fact, she was so excited the class was the weekend that it was as it might have interfered with the clown training up on Lacrosse Wisconsin. that she was so interested in. No matter what the topic being discuss she had a new idea or direction to add to the already overwhelming amount of material. No matter when she chimed in those two days, everyone listened intently. Her vast knowledge of the medical field was precise and vast. She announced that she was thinking about initiating a full Delta program at St Lukes Hospital in Cedar Rapids. OK, one last point from me was the week following we received a hand written Thank You note that was so eloquently and beautifully written. This struck me as an outstanding.
Since that class, Chris and I have spoken regularly. She wanted to put together a succession plan to ensure that the program she had started would always be present at the hospital. And we wanted to address risk management issues that would be alleviated by making sure everybody had a volunteer liability policy separate from the volunteer homeowner's coverage. I can't tell you how many hours we've spent putting this together. And Chris was always the voice of enthusiasm, despite many obstacles. The hospital covered the costs for their volunteers and we managed to recruit three more people from the local community. Seventeen total! SEVENTEEN! WOW! Despite recent floods, the combining of St. Luke's and Mercy after the floods, difficulty in finding a hotel room and my oversight in planning this course on the same weekend that RAGBRAI started, we pulled it off. And it was our best course yet.
Let me tell you as I am telling everyone that we are the lucky ones that Chris took the time to search out our Pet Partner training. She brings so much. She brings so much! St Lukes Hospital is exceptionally lucky that she is behind the surge to excellence with their Pet Partner Program.