Volunteer Spotlight: Ed & Jane McHenry

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Jane and Ed McHenry first learned about Paws & Think one day in 2018 while watching one of their favorite shows, PetPals TV. The show spotlighted a story about Paws & Think, and they were intrigued enough to contact the organization to learn more about volunteering. They both enrolled in therapy dog training with their dogs, Izzy and Iris, and began volunteering in December of that year.

Jane explains that before they adopted Izzy and Iris, they went to several dog shows and did lots of research before deciding that they wanted a Havanese. They adopted Izzy five years ago, and eight months later they adopted Iris, who was born deaf and needed a home with another dog and a handler who could provide the special training and attention she would need. Izzy and Iris immediately became best friends, and Jane began teaching Iris sign language. She mentions that Iris is “the best, most lovable dog” she has ever owned and has brought a very special joy to their lives.

Together, Ed and Izzy and Jane and Iris visit seniors at Allisonville Meadows and Brookdale of Carmel and volunteer with the Paws to Read programs at the Carmel Library and Sand Creek Elementary. As part of our Paws to Heal program, Ed and Izzy regularly visit St. Vincent Seton and Jane and Iris visit the St. Vincent Women’s Hospital. Both teams have also remained active during the coronavirus pandemic, making signs and participating in socially distant visits at Brookdale of Carmel and St. Vincent Urgent Care. They also hope to begin doing virtual visits at St. Vincent Hospital and Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital.

When asked their favorite part of volunteering with Paws & Think, the answer was simple: “how uplifted we feel from our visits to staff, patients, and students.” Jane mentions how many people thank them profusely for visiting and for sharing Izzy and Iris. “At the hospital some patients are waiting when we get there and tell us it’s the highlight of their week.” Ed shares a favorite memory where a patient at Seton posted a sign on her door at Izzy’s eye level that said “Izzy: Don’t forget to stop and visit today!” Jane also fondly mentions a nurse at the Women’s Hospital who eats her lunch in the lobby every day that Iris is scheduled to come so that she doesn’t miss a chance to visit with her.

Both Jane and Ed are retired and say that their favorite hobby is volunteering with Paws & Think and spending time with Izzy and Iris. Jane used to be an elementary school teacher, so she especially enjoys being a part of the Paws to Read programs at schools. In her free time she also enjoys jazzercise, book clubs, college sports, golfing, and making stained glass art. Ed enjoys playing guitar, swimming, and golfing.