A Day in the Life: Anna the facility dog

September 25, 2019  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

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Across the organization, thousands of employees spend their days carrying out exceptional patient care, education and research.

But each individual’s role is unique — including whether they carry out their jobs on two feet or four! — and with that in mind, the A Day in the Life Headlines series introduces an employee and gives readers a snapshot of their daily life at Michigan Medicine.

Today, meet Anna the facility dog! Anna has become a furry friend to thousands of people across the organization, including patients, families, faculty and staff. As part of the Paws4Patients program, Anna attends events, visits patient rooms and walks the halls to cheer up anyone who needs it.

7 a.m.: Every morning, Anna has a difficult choice to make — go outside and sniff around the yard, stay inside and have breakfast or catch a few more zzzz’s. A few minutes later, she puts on her vest and goes to work, making sure she lays down in the back seat and relaxes for a bit before a busy day ahead!

8:30 a.m.: Anna and her human park in a commuter lot, then ride the bus where she can walk around, lean on people and let them pet her ears.

9 a.m.: As soon as she gets to work, Anna goes back outside to get groomed. A mobile grooming van is brought to Michigan Medicine once a week to make sure Anna and her friends stay fresh and clean for all of the patients, families and human colleagues.

10 a.m.: Anna’s first task is working with Father Lew Eberhart. They go to see a couple of patients, plus all of the staff, families and visitors they meet in the hall along the way!

11 a.m.: It’s time for some self-care. So Father Lew brings Anna to the dog-spot by P4 and lets her zoom around and do her business.

Sometimes one of her dog colleagues (Denver, Fawn or Bindi) join them, causing Anna’s tail to wag in excitement! When the dogs are together, they like to chase each other, wrestle, pull sticks off the tree and let humans give them hugs. Lots of hugs.

Noon: All of the facility dogs have a human team that they support. For instance, Anna works in the Spiritual Care Department.

“Every afternoon, we have a huddle and Anna checks in on all the chaplains and gives them all hugs,” said Lori-Jene Brazier of Spiritual Care. Oh, the chaplains talk about important things too — though Anna tends to snooze during that portion of the meeting.

1 p.m.: After huddle, some of the chaplains eat lunch. Anna especially likes to sit next to Chaplain Julie Nielsen-Schmidt while she eats her apple slices! By shooting her a cute glance, Anna makes it clear that she wants some of the slices — and Chaplain Julie is all too happy to oblige.

2 p.m.: Rabbi Sara Adler takes Anna to visit some patients around the hospital. They like to take their time in the hallway because there are so many people walking by who want to say hello.

Like all other employees, people are instructed to use hand sanitizer before and after petting her — helping to keep the hospital as safe as possible.

Have we mentioned that Anna loves to be petted?

2:15 p.m.: Once on the sixth floor, Anna makes a bee-line for the nurse station, where staff members are always happy to give her some scritches. Many of them say nice things about her and start talking about their dogs at home. They show Rabbi Sara pictures of their dogs and everyone makes a nice fuss.

“Aren’t dogs great?” Rabbi Sara said, knowing that Anna is in complete agreement.

Eventually, the pair goes to see patients on the rabbi’s list. One is sitting up eating her lunch, which smelled delicious, but Anna was a good girl and didn’t try to eat any of it. The patient puts the food away and then speaks to Anna, petting her ears and telling her about her children and dogs at home.

The next patient is sitting up in a recliner and Anna put her face next to her lap for a few minutes so that she could scratch her head. After that, Rabbi Sara and the patient speak at length, giving Anna time to sleep. Finally, they visit a third room, where Anna puts her nose up against a patient who was quiet in bed. It’s a moment of serenity in an otherwise busy day.

3 p.m.: Anna’s humans know that in order to keep taking the best possible care of folks, it’s important to take breaks. So Anna naps on her bed with all of her toys.

4 p.m.: Anna takes the new chaplain interns and residents on a tour of University Hospital. The group seems overwhelmed, so Anna shows them how important it is to walk slowly and give everyone a chance to make eye contact, talk or shake paws. It’s a lesson the new interns and residents will never forget.

5:30 p.m.: It’s the end of the work day, so Anna rides the bus again, then the car, then snuggles with her family at home.

After eating dinner, it’s time to rest and sleep — making sure she’s ready to be there for her humans at Michigan Medicine the next day!

Want to support Anna and the rest of the facility dogs? The Paws4Patients program is currently holding an apparel fundraiser. And be sure to follow Anna and her friends on Instagram!

Do you want to share your typical day in Headlines? Email headlines@med.umich.edu with a description of your role at Michigan Medicine!

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