I know my name is Luke, but sometimes I think it's actually "Sweet" since so many people call me that.
"He's so sweet," I hear them say.
I'm an 8-year-old Golden Retriever and I love being part of the Animal-Assisted Activity program at Doylestown Hospital. I guess I'm kind of a celebrity here since so many people stop me in the hallway to say "Hi" and give me pets.
I come to the hospital once a week with my mom, Cindy. Our escort, Betsy, leads the way and makes sure it's okay for us to visit patients in their rooms before we go in. Today we're visiting the fourth floor, the Heart Institute and the waiting rooms.
I just had a bath yesterday so my coat is super soft and shiny. I have to admit, I'm a bit of a glutton for getting pets and love it when people scratch my ears. Betsy calls me "Luke the Leaner" since I lean my head into people's hands so they'll keep petting me.
We go to our first room and the patient wants to see me! I'll go up to her bed and let her pet me as much as she wants. She tells us she remembers when we visited her husband when he was a patient here in January. She says I'm soft and gentle. More pets, please!
"He loves his job," I hear my mom say.
Mom also takes me to visit kids at Jamison Elementary School through the Roxy Reading program. The days I go to school and to the hospital are my favorite days of the week.
On to the next room. But wait . . .my nurse friend wants to pet me first.
"I love him," she says. "We all love his visits."
Guess I'm doing a good job!
This patient tells mom and Betsy about the dog she once had. A lot of patients talk about their dogs when they see me. They miss their dogs and I'm happy to fill in while they're here in the hospital.
Here's another patient that wants to see me. I love how she's scratching my head. I hear her tell mom, "This was the highlight of my stay."
I guess I have quite an effect on the patients and their families. I can tell when they need to pet me or be around me. I'll never forget the time I visited the people who had just lost a family member. They asked us to come in to the room and Mom and Betsy and I quietly stayed there for a long time. After we left the room my mom wondered how I knew they needed me there. I guess I just know.
"Honey Pants." That's what another nurse calls me. That's funny! She tells me how I made her day. It's fun to see the nurses each week. They get to know me and I get more pets!
One more patient. Another good ear rub. He says I cheered him up.
"You don't know how much this means to people like me who love animals," he says.
Mom and Betsy know. That's why they keep bringing me.
Well, we're getting to the end of today's visit. I'll be nice and tired for my afternoon nap. I can't wait to come back next week. Maybe you'll see me if you come here. I'll be the one with the wagging tail. Some people say I also smile. I learned how by watching everyone who meets me.
About Animal-Assisted Activity Program
Specially trained therapy dogs in the Animal-Assisted Activity program enhance the patient experience at Doylestown Health, providing welcome companionship and comfort for patients and their families. Studies show that interacting with animals such as therapy dogs reduces blood pressure and lowers anxiety and stress levels.
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