Types of Visits Made by Smiles and Fur Friends
Nursing Homes, Rehabilitation and Assisted Living Facilities
Taking our certified pets on room-to-room visits is the most common activity for our human/pet teams. We bring a friendly animal with warm fur and a wet nose for brief interaction with residents who may miss their childhood pets or may have had to give their pet up. The residents also appreciate a visitor to briefly chat with and we may be their only visitor in a month. Most importantly, after our visit, residents have something interesting to talk about with friends and relatives and staff and other residents.
Public Libraries and Elementary Schools ("BOOKS" – Books Offer Our Kids Smiles)
In our "BOOKS" visits, we go to public libraries and schools so children who are struggling readers can read to our calm, quiet pets. These kids get a friendly pet that listens to them read with no judgement or interruption.
In hospitals, we go room-to-room to see patients and also visit waiting rooms to help stressed families. Our presence gives a welcome break to those who are worried or in pain. Hospital staff also appreciate the time we spend with them.
These patients and their families are facing a very difficult time in their lives. The brief respite brought by our pets often brings smiles and sometimes laughter to people who were not smiling when we arrived. We also visit hospice patients by chaplain request in facilities where we do not provide regular monthly visits.
Smiles and Fur Friends volunteers also provide many one-time visits throughout the year:
Respite Day Care
Our teams go by invitation to Alzheimer care groups for day programs, often held in area churches. We also participate in groups with special needs clients for their unique activities.
Final Exam Stress Relief
Our pets are popular stress-relief providers at universities, colleges and high schools at final exam time. These semi-annual visits not only bring comfort to students who miss their own pets back at home, but college librarians remark that the stressed students also appreciate talking to adults who are not grading them.
We often accept invitations to Girl and Boy Scout Troops as they study pets and work toward earning badges in pet care and in how animals are trained to help humans.
Medical and Nursing Schools
We visit with students at Houston area medical schools and nursing schools to increase awareness of pet therapy for their future careers. We usually go to these at final exam times, as well as welcoming the new med students each year.
Other Types of Visits
Our volunteers and their pets have been guest speakers for community organizations like USO, Rotary and Lions clubs for education about the benefits of pet therapy. These are great opportunities to spread the word about the training and guidelines for therapy pets. And pets are calming for harried travelers at airports, too.
Facilities We Do NOT Visit
Our volunteers and their certified pets bring unconditional love to people that need it. We’re often asked to visit facilities that are either unrelated to this mission or a possible safety risk for our teams – here is a list of some facilities and events we DO NOT visit.
1. We do not make visits for entertainment. Nor for kids’ birthday parties, nor college beer busts (real requests). The purpose of our visits is comfort, and occasionally for education.
2. We do not participate in anything held outdoors (pets overheat much faster than humans).
3. We do not visit in facilities at the same time that other pets are visiting there. We will provide some pet visits that are on different days than those already being received by other organizations or individuals.
4. We do not ever visit in individual homes or apartments, including homes serving as small assisted living residences.
5. We do not participate in any type of service hours for schools, groups, court, etc. (One hour a month would be useless for accumulating those hours.) And our purpose is altruistic, and not to be self-serving for our people or play-dates for their pets.
6. We do not set up any visits at any facility that requires our volunteers share their SSN in any manner unless it is a secure, online background check procedure like the major hospitals use. Unfortunately, identity theft from care facilities is rampant.
APPLICATION FOR NEW VISITS
Every email contact is always answered as promptly as possible.
We are currently growing in membership. If we cannot accommodate your request now, we will keep you on our "hopeful" list and keep trying to find volunteers for your facility. Regretfully, we can't always fill requests due to lack of volunteers living near the requesting facility and other considerations, so we cannot promise anything. Note that we don't schedule a new visit at the same time as one of our current visits in the same area of town, as we won't take pets away from one visit to staff a new one. And, of course, it depends on where the facility is, what they want our pets to do, and what they require of our volunteers.
Visit Application Process
1. Fill out the contact form below, selecting the appropriate type of visit. The form will be received by one of our officers.
2. Our officer will reply to you in 1-3 days by phone (most likely) and/or email to discuss more information on the type of visit you have requested. If you don’t hear back by then, your request did not go through. Please try again.
3. The officer will review your information and will let you know if we can schedule your visit, if we are unable to meet your request, or if your facility will be added to our waiting list.
Thank you for your interest in having our pet teams visit with your residents/clients at your facility. We look forward to talking to you soon.