By Karen McBride
Published by Dunndeal Publications
Canines for Christ (“CFC”) brings joy to patients and volunteers. The animal therapy ministry visits people in cancer centers, children’s homes, nursing homes, hospitals, prison ministries and other places where people are in need of God’s comforting words and the unconditional love and affection dogs bring.
Chaplain Larry Randolph started Canines for Christ in July, 2007. At the time, he did not own a dog, and borrowed his daughter’s dog to start the ministry. It has grown to over 300 volunteers in the Tampa Bay area. The teams visit Brighton Gardens, Carrollwood Care Center, St. Joseph’s Hospital, James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, Pyramid and Manorcare to name a few. They have recently added the Shriners Children Hospital and Learning Your Function Adult Development Center for the disabled, to their list.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, you must complete an application, are required to have a certificate of health completed by your veterinarian, provide the AKC Canine Good Citizen or Therapy Dog Certification, and sign a liability waiver. Dogs must be two years old to enter the ministry, well mannered and non-aggressive.
Volunteers agree to wear the Canines for Christ T-shirt, and their dogs should wear an approved vest and patch. Most importantly, volunteers must be Christians, share God’s message of love and hope, pass out the card with your dog’s picture and the message of God’s plan of salvation, and, of course, listen to the patients.
In September, Canines for Christ was invited to The One Roof Gala, an event for special needs at Mainsail. Several teams were there to greet the 300 people with special needs in attendance.
On October 3, The Family Abilities Information Rally (“F.A.I.R”) for the disabled is being held at All Peoples Life Center. It is estimated that several hundred people will attend and there will be several CFC teams there to meet and greet the guests.
On October 10, there will be a Blessing of the Animals in Dunedin and CFC will be there to help bless the animals.
Joni Deitch, and her dog, Darla, are volunteers at CFC. She had an accident last year and broke her ankle. She learned of the animal therapy ministry when she was attending Van Dyke Church in Lutz. She was sitting in the back so that she could prop her leg up, when Gracie, Larry Randolph’s dog, came over to greet her. Being a therapy dog, Gracie knew that Joni was injured and wanted to comfort her. Later Joni spoke to Larry Randolph and learned about CFC. At first, she volunteered with her dog, Georgia, at NuVista Living Rehab and Fletcher Health and Rehabilitation Center. Sadly, Georgia passed away recently. Joni enjoyed the volunteer work and wanted to continue, so she applied with her dog, Darla. Darla has has just completed training and certification, and they are looking forward to their first event.
For more information, go to www.k9forchrist.org or call 813-968-3983.