Thursday, August 13, 2009
The optimism and happiness a therapy dog visit can provide to a patient is one that cannot be measured by a doctor’s instruments or recorded on a patient’s chart.
Galichia Heart Hospital has teamed up with Complete K9 to bring licensed, trained therapy dogs into the hospital to help promote healing and good will among patients and staff.
Therapy dogs benefit patients who might be depressed, who have not had a visitor in a while, or who are awaiting surgery or other services and may benefit from the unconditional acceptance and companionship a friendly dog brings.
“Therapy dogs help both patients and the nurses,” said Louise Villegas, RN, an outpatient unit nurse who escorts the therapy dogs and their trainers to patient rooms. “It’s amazing how you can see some patients are kind of tense, and when you walk in with that dog, their faces just relax.”
Complete K9 owner Toney Turner, whose German shepherd, Malice, is a licensed therapy dog, said all of his volunteer therapy dogs are trained and certified through Therapy Dog International, which requires live testing with a licensed examiner, a written exam from the trainer and veterinary checks.
“My life is about training dogs, whether for obedience, personal protection or behavior modification,” Turner said. “But when it comes to therapy dogs, it is so rewarding to see a dog bring so much happiness to somebody else. There’s nothing like it.”