We are all familiar with therapy dogs and the important work they do in schools, hospitals, homes, and more. One team from Southhampton in the UK have a special set of skills that put their young patients at ease. They aim to make the children they serve feel comfortable and unafraid when facing a battery of medical tests and procedures. How do they do it? By submitting to the procedures themselves first!
They Are Called “Dog-tors”
There are six Golden Retrievers on the SCH Therapy Dogs organization. Archie, Quinn, Leo, Hattie, Jessie, and Milo are a team of volunteer dogs who “visit Southampton Children’s Hospital to bring smiles to the patients, siblings and staff at the hospital.” Their Animal Assisted Intervention work covers everything from informal meet and greets that spread cheer to supporting kids during medical exams and procedures.
If the Dog Can Do it, So Can I!
The SCH Therapy Dogs team is unique in that the dogs role play a variety of medical procedures and processes for patients before the children undergo them. For example, if a doctor needs to palpate a child’s abdomen, the dog will get onto the exam table or hospital bed and lay on his or her back while to doctor demonstrates the palpation process. If a kiddo requires an MRI, the dog will jump up into the machine and show the patient that getting into the machine is not as scary as it may seem. Seeing the dogs undergo mock versions gives the human patient the confidence they need to undergo the actual procedure. Not to mention, the dogs’ very presence brings about a sense of calm and relieves stress for patients, regardless of what they are facing.
Qualified Handlers With a Positive Outlook
There are four handlers on the SCH Therapy Dogs team. Lyndsey, Karen, Liz and Hannah are the handlers and the dogs are their pets and work partners. Lyndsey studied Animals & Human Health at the Institute for Human Animal Connection at the University of Denver. She holds the team’s Certificate in Animal Assisted Therapy, Activities and Learning. They are proud of the work they do and try to visit as many of the children as possible. They visited over 3000 patients in 2019 and are looking forward to serving as many or more in this new year.
To learn more about SCH Therapy Dogs and the work they do, follow the team on Facebook.
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