Get to Know Our Staff — An Interview with Client Inn Keeper Judy Henry

Judy's "Esther the Pester" has a rare moment of relaxation

What is your title at NEADS?
My title at NEADS is “Client Inn Keeper.”

How long have you been with NEADS?
I’ve been fortunate enough to be on the NEADS campus since 2000. I started taking care of the gardens, then I worked with various volunteer groups. Eventually I got into cleaning the houses on campus, taking me in the direction of the Client House.

You maintain the client house, where our clients stay when they are in training with their new assistance dogs. A big part of your job is to make sure that the house is clean and welcoming from the very first day they walk in. It must feel great to play a role in their comfort and happiness while they’re here! What is that like for you?
It’s amazing! The clients are OUR special guests — they arrive as clients and leave as friends. How many people can say they’ve had the chance to meet people from all over the country and, even better, have had the chance to see all of these amazing dogs placed with all these special people? I love making the house a warm, comfortable, inviting, special place to be. It’s so rewarding.

You don’t work directly with the dogs, but I know you have a great deal of affection for them and for the NEADS mission, and you’re always on the lookout for ways to help NEADS.
I don’t work directly with the NEADS dogs because believe it or not I’ve never owned a dog. A very special cat got me involved with volunteering at NEADS. I love being a volunteer. How often in life do you get a chance to return a favor?

While I was volunteering at a city animal shelter I got a chance to meet a dog named Rusty. Rusty was returned three times for his high energy. Because I was part of NEADS I could see this dog had more than one chance in life so I asked NEADS if Rusty could meet a trainer (Christy Bassett).  I’m very pleased to say that Rusty went into the program; he graduated as a Hearing Dog. Being part of NEADS Nation opens so many doors, in so many different ways.

Do you have any animals of your own? Who are they and what are they like?
I have three cats that allow me to live with them (all rescues)! It’s hard to live by their rules. It’s true what they say: dogs have masters, cats have staff! Katie is a calico Siamese (AKA “Dynamite”). She’s a petite dynamo, who is always in a mood. Smitty  (I was smitten with this kitten) is an orange tuxedo cat who is always sweet and PURR-fect. Then along came Esther (AKA “Esther the Pester”) This crazy calico is always UP to something!

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