Donna Stottlemyer has always had a soft spot for animals. But the longtime Farmers Electric Cooperative employee’s goodwill extends to humans, too. Since 2015, she has led the Rockwall/Royse City chapter of Love on a Leash, a nonprofit that brings free pet therapy services to people.
Stottlemyer coordinates visits to hospice centers and assisted living facilities and, along with other volunteers, deploys the organization’s 16 trained, certified canines to lift moods and soothe souls. One hospice patient who often experienced agitation would calm as soon as the therapy team entered her room. “She would chat with us, and she had a beautiful smile…and she would pet the dog,” Stottlemyer said.
Odin, Stottlemyer’s 175-pound Irish wolfhound, has brightened spirits at a children’s bereavement program in Rockwall, northeast of Dallas, and encourages a love of books as a reading education assistance dog at local libraries. Odin and other dogs serve as nonjudgmental listeners for children to read to, building their confidence and skills.
Odin listens patiently and accepts hugs with equal aplomb, according to Stottlemyer, who described him as a “sweet and gentle giant.”
His handler has a heart for service to match. Read more online at loveonaleash.org.