Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Red Cross Pet Therapy Volunteers Raena Korenman and Truffles, Newburgh, New York

When Raena Korenman and her husband, Alan, visited a poodle breeder, only one tiny chocolate poodle was available to be shown. That little ball of fur went over, licked Alan, climbed on his lap and curled up to go to sleep. The rest is history. The Korenmans took Truffles Piper Shadow Korenman home.

At just three pounds, Truffles started "pet therapy" work almost immediately. Two months after adopting Truffles Raena had knee replacement surgery and Truffles began "visiting" Raena in rehab. The moment Truffles arrived, word would get out and patients would flock to Raena’s room to hold and be comforted by the tiny creature.

At home the first command Truffles learned was “Go”—meaning, go up or down the stairs before Raena, so Truffles wouldn’t get crushed by a crutch or make Raena slip, trip or fall. Truf learned so fast that the Korenman’s knew their tiny bundle would make a wonderful therapy dog.

Today, at five-and-a-half pounds, Truffles is in her fifth year of making people smile and comforting those in need. She has worked at Elant Nursing Home in Goshen, N.Y., Cubs Place (a gathering spot for children whose families are in distress) in Newburgh, N.Y., the Sarasota Florida library, where children in a Reading Education Assistance Dog (R.E.A.D.) program read to Truffles, and at a R.E.A.D. program at an elementary school in Nokomis, Florida.

Truf’s most recent and favorite spot is at the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) at West Point as part of the Red Cross Pet Therapy program. The other visiting dogs are the BIG guys that the soldiers love to wrestle with and pat. Yet Truffles heads out all excited in her camouflage scarf and brings just as much comfort and joy to the soldiers who sit and cuddle her.

Next up for Truffles will be certification as Raena’s personal service dog. Always at Raena’s side, Truffles has comforted Raena through everything from joint replacements, to stroke, to cancer. She doesn't care what may be wrong with Raena—or anyone else for that matter. Truffles just cares about providing much-needed comfort. Truf may be tiny, but knows she does a hefty job wherever she goes.

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