A Raleigh resident who started a pet therapy group to help the community got an early Christmas present this week when representatives from “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” stopped by her house.
Catherine Guy, an N.C. State University graduate, wrote a letter to DeGeneres several months ago asking for tickets to the show for her and her mom.
“Hi Ellen, because of you and your love for animals and people, I have started my own pet therapy group called Retrieving Hearts,” Guy, 23, wrote.
The group of volunteers and certified therapy dogs visits nursing homes, hospitals and schools in Raleigh and Durham on a weekly basis. Photos on the group’s Facebook page show smiling children and adults petting and snuggling with golden retrievers named Wrigley, Marley, Jack and Journey.
“You know that I like to reward people for their kindness,” DeGeneres told her audience in Thursday’s episode, which aired at 3 p.m. She sent a show representative to surprise Guy at her home while DeGeneres called, pretending to be someone delivering a package.
When Guy and her mother, Glenda Guy, opened the front door, Catherine Guy immediately started screaming and jumping in excitement.
“I had no idea that they were coming,” Guy said in an interview. “I’ll never be able to put into words what this means to me.”
She and her mother received tickets to the show – and a $10,000 check from Nutella to support Guy’s work.
“A big reason I wanted to meet you is because of the work you do,” DeGeneres told her on the phone. “I love your attitude.”
As a student at NCSU, Guy volunteered at Duke Children’s Hospital and Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue. She also interned at the Ronald McDonald House of Durham, where she helped plan events and programs.
A “passion for people and animals” inspired Guy to found Retrieving Hearts in January of last year, several months before she graduated. The group, which has 10 volunteers and 10 dogs, visits places such as the Ronald McDonald House, Sunrise Senior Living in Cary, the Raleigh Plastic Surgery Center and N.C. State during exams.
Guy plans to use the $10,000 from Nutella to give back to the community.
“I just want people to know that any act of kindness, no matter how big or how small, doesn’t go unnoticed,” she said.
Madison Iszler: 919-836-4952; @madisoniszler