Prescription: Pets
Therapy Dogs

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Third time’s the charm — just ask Britton, a 7-year-old  Cavalier King Charles spaniel.


Britton, first known as Biscuit, grew too big for his initial family. Not that he’s overweight, but he did get large for a Cavalier, weighing 32 pounds vs. the 18 pounds that is more typical of the breed.


He found a second home with another family, but it turned out they didn’t have enough time to devote to him. That’s when, at the age of 2½, he made the connection to his third and final family: Tom and Pam Ward of Redding.


Pam already had a heart for Cavaliers. Her previous dog, Rusty, was a Cavalier who died at age 7. She and Rusty had been a volunteer team with Prescription Pets Therapy Dogs.


Pam became aware of Prescription Pets though her career as a nurse practitioner. 


“I was working with an oncology group and the dogs would visit patients getting chemo treatment,” she says. “I thought, ‘This is so great.’”


The patients looked forward to the visits, she says. The dogs had a way of taking the patients’ minds off what they were going through. Pam decided to become a part of the program too. She and Rusty went through the process to become a certified team and then started with visits in 2008.


After Rusty passed and Britton came into Pam’s life, they became a new team. Britton was a quick study. His affectionate, gentle nature and big, brown, expressive eyes, make him a natural for the therapy dog program.


“He’s very calm during therapy visits,” Pam says, but adds when Britton is off duty and if “there’s a bird, squirrel or cat, that’s another story.”


Pam and Britton visit Mercy Medical Center, Veterans Home of California - Redding and assisted living centers. They volunteer for special events too, such as helping greet students returning to Grant School following last summer’s devastating Carr Fire.


“I love it,” Pam says of being part of Prescription Pets.


She joined the Prescription Pets board in 2010. She is a presenter at training workshops and helps with evaluations. She’s also active with the Reading Education Assistance Dogs® program, which boosts reading skills and encourages a love of books by having children read to dogs. She and fellow Prescription Pets member Lee Padden are leading R.E.A.D. locally, with a goal of bringing renewed energy to the local effort.


“We want to get more dogs into the schools,” Pam says.


Beyond Prescription Pets and R.E.A.D., Pam continues to work as a nurse practitioner and is the educator for Nor-Cal Think Pink Breast Cancer Awareness. She enjoys running and hiking, as does Britton. A recent accomplishment for Pam (minus Britton) was summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.