Baxter_Regional_Medical_Center_Hensley_Behavioral_Health_Center_1801966Baxter Regional Hospital Welcomes “Paws of Love”

submitted by Lynda Dudek

Apache owned by Susie Baker, Andy owned by Charles Polacek and Barney owned by Lynda Dudek, members of the “Paws of Love” therapy group (registered members of the national Alliance Therapy Dogs organization), have now starting doing visits to Baxter Regional Hospital. This is the first time dogs have been invited into the hospital. We visit twice a month and brighten the patients day. Doctors, nurses, billing agents, and volunteers all want to say hello to our ambassadors of love. They leave each person they visit with a smile on their face.

This group has made great strides in sharing our pets in many ways. We visit four different senior assisted living facilities, kindergarten, second grade and one class for Special Education. We have grown in numbers from 4 dogs/handlers teams to 11 dogs/handler teams. The group has a Golden Retriever, Bedlington Terrier, Toy and Mini Poodles, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Rhodesian Ridge Back, West Highland White Terrier, and a Great Dane as members with their handler/owners making up the other half of the team. Teams may be out from two to four times a week doing visits.

Our dogs have earned from AKC Therapy Novice to Therapy Excellent titles for their volunteer work. Therapy Excellent requires 200 visits to obtain that title.

We have three of our team dogs with that title now. One of our dogs should achieve the top level of “Distinguished” with over 400 visits by the end of 2016. Some of our team dogs also have titles in conformation, obedience, rally, agility, and barn hunt.
~ Lynda Dudek