Monday, July 16, 2012
Red Cross Pet Therapy Volunteers Judy Audevard and Kizzy, Somers, New York
Audevard adopted Kizzy from the Greater New York Bichon Frise Rescue Group in 2001. Soon after, Audevard decided to take photos of Kizzy with her mom, who had suffered a stroke two years earlier. Her mom was not only unable to move her right arm or hand, she also had great difficulty speaking.
Audevard placed Kizzy on her mom's lap. Her mom held Kizzy with her left hand and started stroking him with her right.
“I asked her if she realized what she was doing,” said Audevard, “and she said, ever so clearly, ‘Of course, I do, I'm petting Kizzy!’"
"I was watching a miracle unfold., said Audevard.
A few days later, Kizzy was again sitting with Audevard’s mom.
“While mom tried to read a magazine aloud, he appeared to be listening to her!” said Audevard. “The power of this little dog can never be measured.”
Audevard then had Kizzy trained as a therapy dog. He has certification from Therapy Dogs Incorporated, American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizenship, and Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.).
Audevard and Kizzy have worked with children and adults at hospitals, libraries and schools in Orangeburg, Harrison, West Haverstraw, Hastings-on-Hudson, Pearl River, Nanuet, and Tappan, New York.
Kizzy has also enjoyed some measure of fame. Fans can visit his website, Kizzy’s Korner. He has also been featured in local newspapers and “Ladies Home Journal,” and appeared on TV: WABC Eyewitness News and News Channel 12.
Kizzy even stars in his own book: “One Incredible Dog, Kizzy,”a story of a day in his life. Kizzy and Audevard have traveled to more than 100 schools promoting the book and explaining the benefits of reading to a dog to students and teachers.
Recently Audevard was instrumental in implementing the Red Cross pet therapy program. With experience running her own marketing business, as well as her and Kizzy’s involvement with pet therapy and the R.E.A.D. program, Judy saw the need for leadership for this program. She worked with Leslie Louango, an occupational therapist at West Point, to implement the program, which involves pet therapy volunteers and their dogs visiting soldiers assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit at the United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
Recently, Audevard and Kizzy, along with several other R.E.A.D.-certified teams, worked with children from the West Point Military Academy enrolled in a R.E.A.D. program. At the group’s last event, children of deployed soldiers were videotaped reading to a R.E.A.D.-certified dog. The video was then sent to the deployed parent.
Kizzy has received his TDI-AOV certificate—a therapy dog’s most prestigious award—for being an Active Outstanding Volunteer, and has made more than 400 documented therapy visits. His favorite pastimes are chasing squirrels in his back yard, playing “Kizzy tag” with boys and girls, and sleeping.