Pets offer comfort to hospital patients
MidMichigan Medical Center–Gratiot has 43 new volunteers and half of them are gentle , loving dogs of all sizes. Earlier this week 21 golden retrievers , yellow and chocolate Labradors , a Newfoundland , a Chihuahua , an Australian cattle dog , a German shorthair pointer , spaniels and many other pet therapy-trained canines assembled with their owners in the lobby of the Medical Center in Alma.
The dogs love to visit patients who are hospitalized in the Medical Center and Gratiot RehabCentre. “Did you see how they drug me in here?” asked Margy Riemer of Mt. Pleasant. “They just love to visit patients.”
The Medical Center’s Pet Therapy Service program is available for patients and families during a hospital stay. They also greet patients who may be in the waiting area waiting for outpatient testing. In addition to Alma , pet therapy is also offered at additional MidMichigan Health affiliate locations , as well.
Through the Pet Therapy Service program , MidMichigan Health fosters the special bond between humans and dogs to enhance patients’ positive feelings , help them and their families relieve stress and to assist in the healing process. Pet therapy is also known to help ease patients’ anxiety and , with all of these benefits , help to promote shorter recovery times during the patient stay.
One patient commented on the dogs’ visit last week. “It made me feel good. I liked the way they acted. They were not aggressive. They seemed to like me a lot , ” said Martha Post of Breckenridge , a patient in MidMichigan’s Gratiot RehabCentre.
Pet therapy dogs are graduates of Therapy Dog International in obedience training and have passed canine good citizen tests.
These certified dog teams and their volunteer handlers are available to visit patients in the hospital every day of the week.
The program is coordinated through the Medical Center ’s volunteer services. Human volunteer handlers are always present with the therapy dogs during visits.
Lynzie Bachus of Carson City rescued her Australian cattle dog and German shorthair pointer , Wyatt and Raven. Raven had some behavior problems with chewing in his previous household , but after Bachus rehabilitated him she realized , “Raven just wanted a job.” And Raven found the perfect job. “When I get out their pet therapy collars , they run for the car , ” Bachus said. “Then in the hospital they calm down and wait. They know that people need them.”