Pet therapy brings comfort to hospital patients
Tracy Toth and volunteer Wilma Stubbs visit different patients throughout McDowell Hospital on Wednesdays.
By: Landdis Hollifield
Published: November 19, 2011 » Comments | Post a Comment
Every Wednesday afternoon, visitors at McDowell Hospital will notice a four-legged guest being lead to various rooms throughout the hospital.
Abbey is a therapy dog whose duty is to bring comfort and companionship to those at the medical facility.
The 3-year-old springer spaniel was rescued at an early age from a puppy mill and since then has been working with her owner Tracy Toth to help others.
Toth hopes she and her dog can make difference in the lives of others.
Abbey and I have been doing this for over a year now, said Toth. Patients really enjoy Abbey’s visits. Many of them just love rubbing her head and talking to her.
To become a therapy dog, Abbey, along with Toth, had to go through training.
The training for this program is a two part test, Toth said. I had to be tested to see how I got along with patients and Abbey had to be tested to make sure she could handle being in a hospital.
Helping Toth is volunteer Wilma Stubbs, who makes sure that patients and their rooms are prepared for a visit.
My job is to go in ahead of Tracy and Abbey and make sure patients still want them to come, then I put a sheet over their bedding and make sure that the room is ready for Abbey to come in, said Stubbs.
The therapy dog, whose part of the Paws on a Mission program, has become famous for her demeanor and many guests are pleasantly surprised at how calm she is.
Many patients enjoy the company of an animal, especially when they don’t have pets at home.
My husband would love this. I really wish he could be here right now, said Sheila Romaniello. We both really love pets and having her visit has been really nice.
At the end of every visit, Abbey makes sure to see her favorite staff members of the hospital.
Abbey and I always stop by and see different people before we leave, said Toth. I’m just glad that we can come and volunteer our time to help others.
Currently there are three therapy dogs that take turns visiting patients every Wednesday. For more information on the therapy dog program, visit mcdowellhospital.org.