Tongues and tails will soon be wagging at CGH Medical Center. Beginning September 1, specially trained canines will be regular visitors at the hospital as part of the new Love on a Leash Dog Therapy Program.
“We are excited that animal-assisted therapy is now a reality, thanks to the generosity of the CGH Health Foundation,” said Sheila Brune, director of Service Excellence and program coordinator. “This will positively impact our patients and the community. We are always looking for a wow factor to complement the excellent care we provide.”
The goal of the program is to bring joy, comfort and companionship to patients interacting with the dog/handler team, and we want to ensure that the program’s health, safety and training requirements promote the well-being of patients, as well as the dog/handler team. With this in mind, we have a comprehensive application, screening and training program.
If you are interested in becoming a dog/handler therapy team at CGH, please join us on Sunday, July 15 as qualifying dogs will go through a temperament and obedience evaluation by professional dog trainers. Testing will be held from 8-9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m.-noon and 1-2:30 p.m. in the CGH Medical Center Ryberg Auditorium, 100 E. LeFevre Road, Sterling. The cost of the temperament training is $35 (tax deductible) and pre-registration is encouraged. To download an application, visit www.cghmc.com/dogs.
Teams that pass will attend a day and a half training course at the hospital that includes mock and trainer-supervised patient visits, and a briefing on hospital policies and infection control practices. This training – scheduled for August 19 and 20 – will prepare teams for hospital visits.
If your dog consistently performs the following commands: sit, stay, recall and down without treats; walks at your side, loosely on a leash, without pulling; is at least one year of age; and gets along well with other dogs, he or she may qualify as a therapy dog. In addition, your dog should love people, should not be overly vocal, and should handle stress well. To learn more about the qualities that we look for in a therapy dog, visit www.cghmc.com/dogs or call Lauren Bishop at (815) 625-0400, ext. 5567.