Published on February 28, 2012

Mary Greeley Pet Therapy Program Celebrates Five Years


Pet therapy enhances the overall environment of the hospital, serving our patients, family, visitors and staff. It brightens all our days.

Promoting Healing

Our dogs enhance our environment and provide a special role in the hospital by promoting emotional wellbeing and healing. Our patients say they never thought they would have a dog visit them in the hospital, the visit was a welcomed surprise, and the dogs are well-trained and beautiful. As the patients stroke the dogs they say how soothing and comforting it is to have the dogs in bed with them.

Another patient said it was like Christmas when the dog came in the room, breaking the boredom and overwhelming feeling of being sick and in the hospital for a long period of time. Yet another patient said the volunteers and their dogs were “like angels, making my heart and day brighter.”

The Therapy Dogs

All our dogs have the title of Canine Good Citizen through the American Kennel Club (AKC). Our volunteers are committed to the special bond they have with their dogs. The AKC recognizes and honors the commitment and dedication underlying this accomplishment. The AKC also commits itself to protecting the health and well being of all dogs.

Therapy dogs must also be registered with Therapy Dogs International. These certifications both take work and commitment, but our volunteers go above and beyond to achieve even more with their dogs.

The Volunteer Owners

The program is special to the owners, too.

Volunteer Val Hinz remembers a new hospice patient who hadn’t slept for 24 hours. Evita, Val’s golden retriever, lay in bed with the patient, who then was able to relax and fall asleep.

Cathleen Gerbracht, another volunteer, says her dog Cassi helps patients near the end of life relax, and brings a sense of peace to everyone in the room.