Meet Nancy Anderson & Maggie!
Everyone has those times in their lives when they are making big changes and feel a little lost. Maybe you are changing jobs, or adding to your family, or moving far from your current home. Sometimes, you are in that lucky place where you get to chose what comes next. Nancy Anderson found herself in that place after many years of working at Floyd Memorial Hospital. As she approached retirement after 30 years in health care, she was sure of one thing though, she wanted her future life to have purpose and help others. Luckily for WAGS, she found a group of like-minded souls who share her vision of a life well lived.
Even if you have not yet met Nancy, I’m sure you’ve seen her at our meetings. Or rather, you probably were immediately drawn to look at her darling Maggie Mae. Nancy dresses Maggie Mae in charming, seasonally appropriate attire and she is a show stopper with her big dark eyes and charming affect. Having recently lost their lovable rescued yellow Lab, Nancy researched many dog breeds to find a medium size, nonshedding dog to be the perfect addition to their family. Maggie Mae is a mini Golden Doodle, a floppy, moppy darling who Nancy loved from the first time she picked her up. Maggie Mae loves to be petted and held and give comfort to all.
Nancy knew that Maggie Mae was special from the start, and the dog continued to prove her right. The first sign of her therapy dog potential took place in a parking lot, when Maggie met a family with young girls. Maggie immediately recognized that the autistic child in the group needed her the most. The mother was so grateful, and that appreciation gave Nancy the inspiration she needed.
Nancy first heard about therapy dogs from Paws with Purpose, who had a booth at an antique show. This led her to join WAGS five years ago. She and Maggie Mae became weekly visitors at Floyd Memorial, visiting employee health fairs, patients on the floor, and surgery waiting rooms, and offering stress relief for the employees. Nancy said that she often hears “I so needed that” and “that just made my day” during visits, particularly since Covid. Nancy and Maggie Mae are grateful to have several great WAGS ambassador teams currently visiting Baptist Health Floyd on a regular basis.
The success of these interactions led Nancy to Guerin Woods assisted living, where the Elders just love Maggie Mae. They love to share stories about their dogs they have had over the years and are always eager to see Maggie and pet or massage her. Nancy and Maggie have made many friends at Guerin Woods, and were very dismayed during one visit because one of the elders had become so very ill. Maggie snuggled with her for what Nancy thought was the last time. She says Maggie really seemed to understand how dire the situation was and was very attentive to the patient. Imagine their happy surprise when, two weeks later, the patient was up in a chair for their visit. She told Nancy, “I know Maggie loves me.”
Maggie Mae shares her gifts within the family too. At a young age Nancy’s granddaughter, Isabelle, had a bad dog experience. To help her overcome her fear after this event, Nancy has taught her to handle Maggie. Recently, at age four, Isabelle showed Maggie in the Harvest Homecoming Pet Show. Isabelle and Maggie walked right up to the stage at the New Albany River Amphitheater with complete confidence and performed their routine. Quite a feat for any four-year-old, even more amazing for one who had a traumatic dog experience!
Nancy echoes what we have heard from other successful WAGS handlers: that the dog looks to you for guidance and you need to have a relationship built on trust and not fear. Her Dad taught her the importance of dog training, and she has used his techniques with her dogs. She highly recommends continual practice of obedience skills and said Linda Laun’s training class at Feeders’ Supply was very helpful. And, don’t forget that routine is very important to your dog.
We all make transitions during our lives. Nancy used her most recent one, from the world of work to the world of retirement, to hone in on what is important to her and what makes her happy. She said it took her a little bit to “figure out what she’s really supposed to be doing”, but she really feels like she helps people now. And that people are happy to see her and Maggie, and they bring joy wherever they go. After our short interview, I certainly agree and am looking forward to getting to know them better too!