Raise the ruff! New hospital dogs join UMHS

August 16, 2016  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

It’s officially the dog days of summer at UMHS as the health system recently welcomed some new furry friends. And they’re here to stay.

Denver and Anna are the organization’s first full-time hospital dogs. The pair joins the existing animal therapy team — which currently includes 28 volunteer dogs and their owners that visit various UMHS facilities.

Denver works with child-life specialist Joel Maier and patients in the pediatric ICU in Mott while Anna is making the rounds with the Rev. Lindsay Bona, manager of the Spiritual Care Department at UMHS.

Their work is already making a big difference. Last week, one young boy was anxious about having a catheter removed after surgery. After telling staff that he “needed Denver,” the dog helped calm him down enough for a nurse to carry out the procedure.

Another patient found the motivation he needed to walk down to his physical therapy session by taking up an offer to walk the friendly pup down the hallway.

“It’s been extremely cool to see how he brings out the best in patients,” Maier said about Denver, a 70-pound labrador-golden retriever mix. “I would have to build a rapport for two weeks to do what he does in seconds.”

This week, UMHS is holding an online “puppy shower” to help pay for Denver’s and Anna’s continued needs — including frequent grooming, food and veterinary care.

Rev. Bona praised the dogs as an asset to the hospital system, not only for triggering health benefits such as improved mood and blood pressure, but also for providing a bridge for extended-stay patients missing their own animal companions.

“It’s one step closer to home,” she says. “Nobody else gives you that unconditional love.”

To learn more about Denver and Anna, visit our Health Blog.

Website: http://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/lifestyle/healing-power-of-hospital-dogs