When Therapy Dogs International was started in 1976, who would have thought that dogs walking the halls of hospitals would become a common sight?
Many hospitals are proud to have TDI Therapy Dogs visit their facility, and many doctors and administrators also recognize the health benefits the visits can provide. The patients are not the only ones who benefit from the visits, as staff members and visitors often look forward to the visits too. Visits to a large hospital are usually handled through the hospital’s Volunteer Department, and there are sometimes rules that the hospital may have for Therapy Dogs that vary from hospital to hospital.
Visits to a hospital can be extremely varied from patient to patient. Some patients can be transported away from the sterile hospital environment by a dog’s visit. Some patients may be light-hearted and crack jokes or tell the handler about the dog they have at home, while some may not want to see the dog at all. Some visits may involve the Therapy Dog being petted in the lobby by visitors before going through the normal rounds. Some visits to hospital patients and their families can be intensely emotional, but can also be the most beneficial. Individuals who are awaiting major surgery, are depressed, or have not had a visitor in a while can all be comforted and reassured by a visit from a gentle Therapy Dog.
The optimism and happiness a Therapy Dog visit can provide to a patient is one that cannot be measured by a doctor’s instruments or recorded on a patient’s chart. However, it is clear to those who have had the experience of a Therapy Dog visit that a friendly visitor with a wagging tail can make all the difference in the world.
Many of our TDI dog/handler teams visit Veteran's Hospitals. Sometimes the handlers are Veterans and can relate on a personal level to the Veterans.
Therapy Dogs are also very much needed to visit at either Psychiatric Units in a hospital or a Specialized Psychiatric Hospital.
TDI dog/handler teams will visit any hospital where they are needed.