If you are dog lover, this Avera Medical Minute will make perfect sense to you. It's been proven that being around a dog can lighten the mood and relieve sadness. No wonder Avera McKennan Hospital puts out the welcome mat for man's best friend.
All three of these girls would take a walk through the hospital hallway over a stroll in the park any day. Their Momma, Certified Therapy Dog Handler Judith Schreck, is a devoted volunteer at Avera McKennan and the Dougherty Hospice House. Every week, Dayzee (110 pound 1 year old Landseer Newfoundland) and Blue (5 year old 140 pound Neapolitan Mastiff) make the lives of patients young, old and in between a little better for at least little while.
Judith says, "Dog therapy lowers blood pressure and it relieves stress. In some therapy situations, it's been shown that it revitalizes people. It makes them more willing to go on with what they were doing especially if it was painful therapy."
Plus, no matter how badly you feel seeing this face is bound to brighten your mood. For Dylan Hanson from Gettysburg, who is recovering from knee surgery, handing out a scratch under the chin and getting a wag in return is just what the doctor ordered.
Twila Perkinson is the Child Life Specialist with Avera Women and Children's Center. She says, "When the dogs come to visit, the kids have a sense of anticipation after we tell them the dogs are visiting. They cheer up. They'll be really anticipating the dogs visit. You'll also see they are happier after the visit. We get a lot of smiles."
Don't think the dogs don't know what they are doing either.Judith told me a story about how there were grieving people in a room and Blue went right over and laid on a weeping mans feet and it made a world of difference for the family.
One teen aged patient says, "They're big. Bigger than mine."
Judith says, "I'm a people person. For me it's nice to do something with my dogs, whom I also love, to be able to do something beneficial for other people. I get so much out of it. It's very satisfying."
She reached down and scratched Blue's head saying, " You are such a good girl. Yes you are."
Such good girls doing good things.
There are 36 certified dogs in the Sioux Falls Chapter of Therapy Dogs International.