Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 10:07 am
Waukesha-based Jannsen & Company internal accounting team member Sandy Leverenz and her yellow lab, Takoda, recently became certified as an animal-assisted therapy team through the Delta Society Therapy Dog Organization.
Since their certification, the two have been regular visitors to Shorehaven Assisted Living Center in Oconomowoc.
"It’s rewarding when you see a smile on someone’s face," said Leverns. "It really tugs at your heart knowing that many residents had to leave their dog behind and they get a little bit of that joy back when we come to visit."
"Takoda" in the Sioux language means "friend to everyone," Leverens said.
Leverens and her dog spend about an hour a week assisting in an exercise class at Shorehaven.
"We come, and everyone who is able stands around in a big circle and take turns throwing Takoda’s favorite toy as far as they can," she said. "It is exercise for the patients, as well as the dog, and they really love it."
According to Leverens, who is looking into getting involved in other areas of the community, there are other opportunities for animal-assisted therapy teams, including elementary school reading programs, hospitals and other nursing homes.
Leverenz decided she wanted to do something unique with Takoda and enrolled him in puppy classes when he was young. Now, nearly 2 years old, Takoda and Leverens have been through a variety of classes at Best Paw Forward in Hartland, which certifies 50 to 60 dogs as assisted therapy dogs per year.
Jannsen & Company has installed a matching program in which the firm matches time and money as additional support for charitable organizations.
"The company has been really supportive of all of its employee’s endeavors," Leverens said. "They very much encourage us to do something outside of the office, and it gives the company the opportunity to participate in its employee lives outside of the workplace, and that’s really beneficial."