Organization

We are a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization located in Albuquerque, NM. We are an all-volunteer organization providing therapy dog services to the Albuquerque metro area. We visit hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes, schools, libraries, the 911 call center and are available for outreach events where we can inform the public about therapy dogs and the work that they do.  We are always looking for individuals who would like to become involved in therapy dog work to join us. If that sounds like you, check out our “Join us” page for more information. If you represent a facility that would be interested in have our therapy dogs visit, check out the “Facilities” tab for information on setting up visits.


Mission

To make a positive impact on people’s lives with our dedicated therapy dog teams.


Purpose

  1. HD Therapy Dogs is operated exclusively for charitable, educational, and humanitarian purposes under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code.
  2. HD Therapy Dogs is a group of volunteers and their dogs organized for the purposes of:
  • comforting and entertaining the sick, lonely, stressed and disabled of all ages wherever they may be
  • providing educational outreach services, e.g., to schools and libraries
  • demonstrating the benefits of pet therapy to health-care professionals and the community
  • supporting registered therapy dog teams by establishing and maintaining visiting, educational, social, networking, and enrichment opportunities to our members
  • sharing our knowledge and love of pet therapy with other volunteers throughout New Mexico.

Core Values

HD Therapy Dogs members as a group adhere to the following core values:

  • share care, compassion, and comfort with each other
  • cultivate and preserve a culture of inclusion and non-discrimination
  • value, respect, support, and trust each other
  • share knowledge and resources generously
  • work together courteously and cooperatively.

History

High Desert Therapy Dogs was formed in the spring of 2020 when seven individuals from another therapy dog group, felt they could do a better job of providing therapy dog services by affiliating with a national registry providing certification and insurance. It was not long before other handlers began to follow us. We currently have about 30 members and are growing steadily.


Meet our Board

Barbara Everage, President

Pet therapy has been a huge part of my life since the fall of 2006.  My first therapy dog, Izzy, went to the office with me every day.  That is when I began visiting  Presbyterian and Lovelace Hospitals.  Izzy went to wait for me at the Rainbow Bridge in May 2016.   Fortunately, Suki had joined the pack by that time and had become a therapy dog.  Bella arrived in July 2016 at the ripe old age of 6 years.  She demonstrated her natural ability as a therapy dog in the airport in Minneapolis as I was bringing her back from Minnesota.  Suki and I are shown attending the Wellness Fair at UNM.


David Howard, VP of Visiting

David was born in a log cabin close to the old Lincoln place in Illinois. He learned to read and write by firelight, and he would have stayed there to be a farmer if a Hollywood producer hadn’t spotted him at the feed store and lured him into the TV business. David preferred operating the equipment over being on the other side of the camera, so he ran away with the star of his first and last show (Lassie) and got an engineering degree. That not only took him to New Mexico’s National Labs, it also instilled in his cold engineer’s heart a great appreciation of the warmth of a canine’s compassion. He became a staunch supporter of and participant in pet therapy to honor the memory of the sweet collie who used to carry his slide rule to class for him. His first therapy dog is named for the luxury item he bought with his first paycheck from the feed store: a pair of socks to cover the feet that had previously gone bare summer and winter at the log cabin.”


Patricia Newman, Secretary

Over my lifetime I have lived with a Chow, Cocker Spaniel, Collie, West Highland Terrier, German Shepherd, a lovely stray of indeterminate breeding, six Rottweilers, and three Papillons. That’s in addition to my human family, one cat, several hamsters, and – for a very brief and memorable period – a tarantula. 

It was my first Papillons, Mr. Cookie and his nephew Radar who got me into pet therapy in 2012. Four years later when Mr. Cookie went ahead of us on that path we all must walk alone, I added Radar’s nephew, Biscuit, to the family. Together the little butterfly dogs and I have visited regularly at hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers in addition to special events, primarily at schools. These stalwart dogs have made me witness to many moments when they touched hearts in mysterious ways no human can. I am a committed advocate of pet therapy.

It has been a privilege to help start High Desert Therapy Dogs in 2020 and serve this group as secretary since our beginning. 


Linni Fletcher, VP of Membership


Joan Puccini, VP of Education and Mentoring



Stephanie Bourgeois, Treasurer

Greetings from the Land of Enchantment, and Hot Air Balloon Capital of the world. My name is Steph, and I am originally from Hamburg, Germany. Since my kids were little, I volunteered in all kinds of different settings. When we moved to the U.S., I was looking for another opportunity to serve the community, and because dogs and obedience were already my passion for the past 40 years, I was looking for something where I could enjoy both.

Back then, I had a very well-tempered Labrador girl Lucy, and had just finished and passed my certification with her, when my daughter decided she needed her as a de-stressor at Vet school. So, I waited 9 months and took Diesel, our then 13-months old chocolate lab, through training and finally started to visit March 2019.

Diesel is a natural and loves his job. We are regularly visiting the VA hospital, assisted living homes, and attending a lot of outreach events, i.e. Cancer Kids, Cuddle a Canine at the University of New Mexico, schools, and more. In the meanwhile, we adopted Sammy, a 2-year-old German Shepherd/Border Collie mix, in October 2018, and soon it became obvious that he would make another good candidate for dog therapy. I finished his training in June of this year, but due to Covid-19, we are restricted to “window visits” only so far. Besides those two certified therapy dogs, we share our home with our spoiled Boxer girl Emma, my son’s Labrador girl Luna who we foster until May 2021 upon his deployment return from South Korea, two cats, and two horses.

When I’m not visiting, I overlook the finances of High Desert Therapy Dogs as the treasurer, work full-time for the Air Force, finish up my MBA in Project Management, and build an off-grid cabin in Northern New Mexico.


Clint Wolf, VP of IT

I’ve worked in the tech field for over 20 years for a number of organizations, but every day, when the workday is over, I come home to something that always makes me smile. Dogs and wagging tails! No matter what the day was like at work, dogs always let you know what’s most important.

You can relate. Whether you’re gone for 5 minutes or 5 hours, the dogs’ greeting is always a good one. Well, that and they’re checking for food.

I’m on my 8th and 9th dogs.

Skyler, a 7 year old Golden Retriever, is my second Therapy dog. Skyler is a great movie-watching companion, sprawling across my chest on the recliner, and snoring. Lightly of course, she is a lady.

Coda, a 2 year old cotton ball (Great Pyrenees) is a possible Therapy dog in the making. I invite her to be a lap dog at my own peril. I still smile as I get the wind knocked out of me. I think she enjoys the sound I make when she lands on my chest.

I’ve had and trained dogs since the mid-90’s, was a volunteer trainer for a local dog club for several years, then transitioned over as a trainer at Acoma Training Center a few years ago. My dogs and I have competed at Agility Trials in 5 states, earning 7 Agility Trial Champion titles. I’ve been involved in Therapy Dog work for 2-3 years, starting with my first Therapy Dog, Kaia, another Golden Retriever.

I look forward to the day when COVID-19 is a memory and we can once again bring smiles to those who need them most.