Meet a human/canine therapy team who’ve made more than 1,000 visits to schools, assisted living facilities, day care centers and more
Meet Molly and Ed Fangman. The personable boxer and her person make up a Pet Partners therapy animal team and have made more than 1,000 volunteer visits to schools, assisted living facilities, day care centers and other sites. They’ve comforted seniors near the end of life, calmed frightened children, and eased the pain of hospital patients.
Before becoming a therapy dog, Molly was a rescue. When just three years old, she barely survived Hurricane Katrina. Abandoned and scheduled to be euthanized, she was given another chance by Boxer Aid and Rescue Coalition in Tallahassee, Florida.
That’s how Ed met Molly. The Florida retiree had recently lost a boxer and didn’t know if he was ready for another dog, but agreed to take a look. When the two met, it was love at first sight.
Molly quickly settled into her new home and Ed realized she would make a perfect therapy dog. “She is the most lovable, affectionate dog,” he says. So he and Molly applied to Pet Partners to become a therapy animal team. The duo has been touching lives in the Tallahassee area for over a decade now.
Ed tells the story of one man in an assisted living facility they visited for about a year. Charlie used a wheelchair and usually sat alone – at least until Molly arrived. To his delight, she would sit right next to him, sometimes putting her front feet and head in his lap.
When Charlie took a turn for the worse, the team visited him in his room, and Molly lay on the bed next to him, resting her head on his stomach. On the shelf in Charlie’s room was a photo of a boxer that his daughter identified as a dog from his past named Princess.
Although Charlie was very weak, he turned to Molly and said quietly, “Princess is here to say hello. Thank you Princess – I love you so much.”
Charlie passed away before Ed and Molly’s next visit. His daughter said his last words to her were: “Thank you for bringing Princess to see me one last time.”
Ed says becoming a Pet Partners therapy animal team with Molly is the best thing he’s ever done. “This is the most fabulous experience of my life. It’s a great experience for Molly and the people we visit as well… everyone wins.”
Pet Partners is the largest and most prestigious non-profit that registers animals of multiple species and their handlers as therapy teams. For more information about how to become a registered team, or to start a visiting animal program, please visit petpartners.org.
May 18 marked the first annual National Therapy Animal Day™, created to recognize and honor exceptional therapy animal teams. Pet Partners celebrated with its Treats and
Sweets Day, in support of training and registering more therapy animal teams like Ed and Molly. Thousands of bakers broke out their mixing bowls and made some sweets
and treats for the event.
Kris Betker is a Seattle-based freelance writer who specializes in profiles of people and animals.