The next inductee in the Therapy Category is Jillian, an English
Lop Rabbit, belonging to Pam Bernadini of Barre. Dr. Laurie Barcelow
was the nominating VVMA member veterinarian.
Jillian works in the fifth grade class at the Northfield Elementary School, at the Mayo Healthcare Facility and at the Bugbee Senior Center. Jillian is a certified therapy rabbit. To receive her certification, she was rated on temperament, appearance, grooming, obedience and the performance of specific tasks, receiving 35 out of 36 points on the Delta Society’s therapy evaluation. Each week a familiar question is heard in Pam’s fifth grade class, “Whose turn is it to go to the nursing home with Jillian?” The fifth graders are taking turns accompanying Jillian to the nursing home as part of the Adopt-a-Grandparent program.
Jillian arrives for her visits in her Radio Flyer wagon wearing her Delta Society vest. She is ready for duty! Jillian facilitates conversation and smiles from everyone she encounters. Her calm demeanor brings out the best in all the senior residents. When they see Jillian, they seem to glow, and for just a moment all their troubles disappear as they pat and talk to Jillian. Many say that Jillian brings back happy memories for their childhood.
Back at the Northfield Elementary school, Jillian works with children with learning disabilities, autism, Down syndrome, and significant developmental disabilities. She has an extremely soothing and calming effect on the children. Many times, Jillian is the first one able to make eye contact with individuals, somehow showing an intuitive ability to communicate when communication is most difficult.
When the fifth graders accompany Jillian to the nursing home, they express that she eases their nerves and excitement. She allows them to be themselves and encourages them to listen to and communicate with their adopted grandparents.
In the words of the Program Director at the Bugbee Senior Center “ Jillian offers everyone she meets a chance to be transported to a more carefree time. By touching her, we are touched by this gentle giant of a bunny rabbit, who calms our spirits and provides us with a lovely memory to accompany us home at the end of the day.”
The VVMA is very pleased to induct the first rabbit into the Vermont Animal Hall of Fame in the Therapy category.