Volunteer Spotlight: Jean and Feathers

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feathers-largeEverybody has that one special piece of clothing that makes them feel like a million bucks. For Feathers, that would be her Paws & Think bandana. “As soon as I put in on, she sits up straighter and looks like she is ready for work,” says Jean Palmer Heck, Feathers’s owner.

Feathers and Jean are a therapy team for Paws & Think. Together, they visit schools, libraries, and summer camps across the Indianapolis area to work with children and help them improve their reading skills. Throughout their 2 years volunteering with Paws & Think, Jean has witnessed how the kids have progressed and become more confident by reading to Feathers. But she has also seen a difference in Feathers.

“She is usually very shy,” notes Jean. “She was rescued from a house with 10 dogs, and I suspect she was abused by an adult,” she explains. But when Feathers enters a room full of children, everything changes. “She warms up to little kids,” Jean says, recalling how much Feathers has “blossomed” during her time as a Paws & Think dog.

Jean has used Feathers’s story to help inspire kids who are shy as well. “When we did a Families First evening with pre-schoolers in Lebanon, we met a little girl that was very uncomfortable in the library. From my interaction with her, I don’t think she even knew how to choose a book from the shelves,” recalling how she had to guide the girl every step of the way.

“I kept saying that my doggie felt shy about reading books, at first too, but she really got to like it.” After that, Jean recalls, “I could see the little girl’s confidence grow. It still brings tears to my eyes to think that a child had no exposure to a library. And it puts a smile on my face thinking my dog was a part of it”.

But while Feathers has come out of her shell through her work, it hasn’t been all work and no play. Besides the joy of working with children, what else does Feathers enjoy about being a Paws & Think dog? “Her treats, especially the drive through at McDonald’s after our sessions!”