View All Articles

Feeling the warmth of a furry friend

June 28, 2012

 A few times a week, a special (furry) friend visits Arnold Palmer Hospital to brighten the day of our children who are receiving care. Pets have been a healing part of our hospital for over 20 years, bringing hope, joy, and comfort to our patients. Thought of as the “softer” side of treatment, man’s (and kids’) best friend provides physical and emotional healing to sick children who are fighting to get better everyday.

The Pet Therapy Program is a unique experience that patients look forward to because it gives them a little taste of home while in the hospital. It is especially comforting to those who may be missing their own furry friend and just want the unconditional love of their pet. Bringing pets into the hospital helps to warm the hearts of our patients and keep their minds off of the challenges they are facing. Our animals are able to visit a variety of our patients at the hospital, whether it is those who are receiving an outpatient treatment, children who are anxiously awaiting surgery, or those who are battling cancer, and more. There is no better way to say “I am here for you” than a loving dog that lays its head gently next to the bedside and snuggles up to a sick child.

Sheri Mosely, manager of the Child Life Program, says “We’ve seen physiological changes in our patients more than anything. In a critical care area, we’ve seen the patient’s blood pressure drop when the dog is next to their bed, and the patient may not even be alert enough to realize what is going on. We’ve also gotten a lot of first smiles. That’s really powerful to see. Then you know you’re making that positive impact.”

Meet some of our “furry angels” who bring healing to our patients:

The program is about more than just the dog- the volunteers who graciously set aside time to bring their certified pet in to visit with patients help make a difference, too. And every volunteer knows that an hour visit could easily turn into two hours, to which Mia, one of the Pet Therapy volunteers comments, “I always make sure my schedule is clear to allow for unplanned visits and stops in the hallways.”

Thank you to all of our volunteers who keep the program going by setting aside time in their day to help bring healing and hope to our patients!