Jane L. Bartholomew, 60, started animal-therapy group

July 17, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Jane Lowe Bartholomew, a co-founder of National Capital Therapy Dogs, which brought comfort and hope to patients in Maryland and Washington health care facilities, died Saturday of breast cancer at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson. The Columbia resident was 60.

In 1990, Mrs. Bartholomew and two friends, Wayne and Shari Sternberger of Highland, formed National Capital Therapy Dogs, or "Caring Canines," which worked with patients in a variety of therapeutic settings.

They wanted the dogs to be able to do more than entertaining tricks when visiting patients.

The dogs, each working with a volunteer handler, visited Alzheimer's patients, mental patients and those in therapy. Mrs. Bartholomew participated with her German shepherd, Samantha.

The dogs were trained to get in bed and soothe a terminally ill patient, or to accompany an anxious child to a medical procedure, then patiently wait outside in the hallway until its completion.

The dogs also worked with patients in oncology units and those recovering from strokes and brain or spinal cord injuries.

"Patients would rather play with a dog in therapy than sit with a therapist and fold towels as part of their therapy," Mrs. Bartholomew told The Sun in a 1993 interview.

Dogs and handlers are regular visitors to the National Institutes of Health, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Taylor Manor Hospital and Shady Grove Adventist Hospital.

Mrs. Bartholomew and her family adopted Samantha from Howard County Animal Control when the puppy was 7 weeks old. She said working with the dog and patients helped her cope with the death of her father from cancer.

"I know what kind of suffering he went through. To me, volunteering is a way of giving back. Sam brings joy and happiness to children. She relieves them of their pain and they have a chance to interact with something warm and cuddly," she told The Sun in 1994.

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997, Mrs. Bartholomew remained active with NCTD until her health began failing in 1998.

"Earlier this year, Samantha had to be put to sleep," said a daughter, Karen Heim of Ellicott City.

Born Jane Owens in Washington, she graduated from High Point High School and attended the University of Maryland, College Park.

In 1960, she married Thomas R. Bartholomew, an engineering consultant, who survives her.

Mrs. Bartholomew had volunteered with the Girl Scouts and at Wilde Lake High School. She enjoyed collecting antiques, Italian cooking and visiting a second home she and her husband maintained in Melbourne, Fla.

She was a communicant of St. John's Episcopal Church, 9120 Frederick Road, Ellicott City, where a memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday.

In addition to her husband and daughter, Mrs. Bartholomew is survived by another daughter, Debra Foley of Columbia; her mother, Naomi L. Owens of Chester; and four grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, 200 E. Joppa Road, Suite 403, Towson 21286.

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