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    Puppy brigade reports for duty

    A therapy dog program at a children’s hospital provides comfort for pediatric patients and families facing the unfamiliar and a sense of normalcy that makes a frightening hospital experience less so.


    When Tessa’s parents joined her at the end of her therapy session, Julie and Rudy showed another benefit of the Doggie Brigade team, especially members like Rudy. Julie was able to talk about the potentially lengthy trial-and-error process that can occur when fitting prosthetics, and she revealed that Tessa’s prosthetic leg was going to be coming from the same company that made Rudy’s prosthetic paw.

    Following the therapy session, Julie and Rudy returned to the volunteer office to change out of their volunteer gear. Even though he was tired from helping Tessa, Rudy was still happy to be petted and wagged his tail for other children and staff. Before heading home, the pair stopped at the hospital’s cafeteria for a hot dog—Rudy’s reward for a job well done.

    From “wags” to riches

    When Tessa was finally discharged from the hospital, the Puma family spoke often about the positive impact that the Doggie Brigade family had made on their family during her stay. Tessa joined the thousands of other children and parents who had a stressful experience turned into something memorable and positive because of the comfort provided by therapy animals.

    NEXT: Are you earning enough?

    Although the randomized multicenter studies on the efficacy of therapy animals may be lacking, it would be hard to declare these 4-legged ambassadors unhelpful when walking around Akron Children’s Hospital with the Doggie Brigade.


    1. McKinney M. Best practices: Safety first when dogs visit patients. Modern Healthcare. Available at: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20150606/MAGAZINE/306069996. Published June 6, 2015. Accessed November 10, 2017.

    2. Oksman O. Paws for thought: How pet therapy is gaining traction. Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/dec/30/animal-assisted-therapy-nih-veterinary-science-mental-health-american-heart-association. Published December 30, 2015. Accessed November 10, 2017.

    3. American Kennel Club. AKC Therapy Dog Program. Available at: http://www.akc.org/dog-owners/training/akc-therapy-dog-program/. Accessed November 10, 2017.

    4. Jones B. Nordonia kindergartner loses leg after strep throat, flu leads to infection. News 5 Cleveland. Available at: http://www.news5cleveland.com/news/local-news/akron-canton-news/nordonia-kindgergartner-loses-leg-after-strep-and-flu-leads-to-infection. Published April 3, 2017. Accessed November 10, 2017.

    Miranda Hester
    Ms. Hester is Content Specialist with Contemporary OB/GYN and Contemporary Pediatrics.


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