Red-Vested Rockstar: Ardie Arko


Ardie & Murray on Give to the Max Day

Children’s Volunteer Services presents: Red-Vested Rockstar!

Meet Ardie…and Murray!

1.   Why she ROCKS?!

 Ardie has brought two generations of therapy dogs to Children’s: her beautiful Sheltie, Molly, and now her handsome Sheltie, Murray! She began volunteering at Children’s in 2008, and is an integral part of our PAWH (Pets Assisting with Healing) program, volunteering multiple days each week! Here is her background story: “I was at agility training and discovered that my first Sheltie, Molly, could no longer be involved with agility due to a bad back.  Someone in the class suggested that we might want to pursue training as a therapy dog team.   I was completely unaware that such an activity existed, so I began my research.  Molly and I began the training program, became registered as a therapy dog team, and began visiting regularly at Methodist Hospital.  I retired and became available during days that enabled us to become part of the teams at Children’s Hospital, and I have been working in the rehab areas of Children’s-St. Paul, Minneapolis, Maple Grove and Minnetonka, as well as visiting patient floors at Children’s-Minneapolis.”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “As a result of my interest in therapy work, I joined a group called North Star Therapy Animals and am currently a board member and treasurer.  I love reading and belong to a mystery book club.  I have a new grandson and love to spend lots of time with him, as well as with my daughter and her husband.  I do a bit of fishing and a lot of gardening in the summer time, and enjoy a warm ten days in the winter (not here!).”

 3.   Do you have any kids or pets of your own?

 “Our dog Molly passed away a few weeks ago, but Murray has been taking her spot in the therapy dog arena.  He is now four years old and really enjoys the children.  We also have two cats, Max and Franky.  We have three grandsons – would love a granddaughter but probably not going to happen!”

 4.   If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it?

 “This one will be a work in progress…!”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

 “I have had so many great experiences as a therapy dog team.  One Saturday, I received a phone call from Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis about a little girl who had had surgery on Thursday, but the staff was having a really hard time getting her to sleep.  She loved dogs with a passion, and we were asked to visit to see if we could to possibly help her rest.  I placed Murray in bed with her and, of course, she was delighted.  She petted him, hugged him and talked to him.  After a bit of time, she asked her father for her blanket, which he provided with a great deal of hope.  We had thought she was going to curl up and possibly sleep with Murray next to her.  Not so: she took the blanket and covered Murray with it.  Murray went to sleep!  However, much to our delight, she fell asleep a bit later.”

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