A Patient’s Best Friend

patients-best-friendThe volunteers wear the same orange badges and picture-IDs that don other Memorial Ambassadors. But these Volunteers are no ordinary hospital helpers. For starters—they walk on four legs, cannot speak and are furry to the touch.

They are canines with Memorial’s dog therapy program, and their mission is to brighten the day and lift the spirits of patients. And by the number of smiles produced everyday in their presence, they are doing a great job!

All the dogs, which are certified by national service dog organizations, are accompanied by handlers, who have attended Memorial’s ambassador services training, says Pam Sandy, ambassador coordinator at Memorial. Both the handler and dog must stay current on their vaccinations and certification to participate.

The cuddly volunteers can be found at Memorial throughout the week, visiting just about every area of the hospital. While the dogs differ in breed, age and energy level, they all have friendly temperaments and are trained to be sweet, calm and soothing to everyone.

“It makes such a big difference to people,” Pam says. “People walk into a hospital, scared of what’s going to happen, and then they see a dog. They relax, and it takes their mind off their troubles for a minute. It changes the whole atmosphere of their experience.”

Volunteers and their furry friends:

  • Melonie Clark and “Frost”
  • Ron Clauser and “Samantha”
  • Renee Langdon and “Drew” and “Barney”
  • Linda Davis and “Temperance” and “Tyson”
  • Melissa Siedenstrang and “Butter”
  • Janet Graham and “Lady” and “Bennie”
  • Linda Meyers and “Argus”
  • Clara Costello and “Roxie” and “Ginger”
  • Pam Bernhard and “Kody”