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Medical staff vouches for therapy dogs

By Mary Jo Ola, mola@wisctv.com
Published On: Feb 13 2014 08:50:20 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 13 2014 08:57:59 AM CST

Medical staff at Meriter Hospital stand by their therapy dogs saying their time spent with patients has helped speed up recovery.

MADISON, Wis. -

Medical staff at Meriter Hospital stand by their therapy dogs saying their time spent with patients has helped speed up recovery.

Karen Peckham, the Meriter program coordinator for Dogs On Call, brought her golden retriever Raider to the hospital's heart and vascular department Wednesday. It was one of her regular stops.

Raider is a 10 1/2-year-old rescue and registered therapy dog.

Wherever the two went, smiles soon followed. Together, the two have two hours per visit to stop by patient rooms in hopes of bringing some relief.

Jack Kruger, a returning patient in the unit, remembered Raider from a previous hospital stay and seem excited when the team stopped by his room

"Made me more comfortable, more cheerful. Made me feel at home. Makes me want to go home and see my dogs," said Kruger.

Patients are not the only ones who benefit from the visits.

"You know they look kind of bored or just there, and you knock on the door and say would you like a therapy dog visit and they just [say] 'Oh would I!' They just brighten up and it's just really rewarding to see that," said Peckham.

She went on to say the visits never get old, and she looks forward to meeting people and hearing their dog stories.

Hospital staff affirm there is a change in patient demeanor when therapy dogs visit.

"Dogs provide patients that extra support to get through the emotional period of their life. I would say definitely we noticed that our patients seem to thrive better. They recover faster," said Richard Lee, M.D. Meriter's division chief of cardiothoracic surgery.

Lee added the program seems to particularly help patients who have just undergone surgery.

According to their website Dogs On Call have partnered with Meriter since 1997.

Dogs also visit other hospitals, hospice, classrooms, libraries and dorms. Visit www.dogsoncall.org for more information.

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