Dogs bring health dose of affection to hospital

Dogs bring health dose of affection to hospital
Andrew Duddie gets a lick Monday from “Daisy Mae,” a black and white papillon breed dog, as part of a pet therapy program at Stamford Hospital. Healing Hounds, which started in 2001, provides “canine comfort and support” to patients and staff, according to the hospital.
Copyright © 2005, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.


The Advocate – Dogs bring health dose of affection to hospital

By Christiana Sciaudone
Staff Writer

Published December 14 2005

STAMFORD — Borrowing Daisy May was the only brightness in Dorrie Plotnick’s day. She was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, which killed her sister and cousin.

“She brought me such joy,” said Plotnick of her neighbor’s black and white papillon breed dog.

Plotnick, of Norwalk, felt compelled to share the feeling. She discovered Healing Hounds, a program at Stamford Hospital, where she was treated.

Yesterday, about five weeks after the completion of her chemotherapy, Plotnick brought Daisy for her second visit to patients in the telemetry ward, where heart patients are monitored at the hospital.

Healing Hounds, which started in 2001, provides “canine comfort and support” to patients and staff, according to the hospital. Recently, UCLA researchers found that dog visits “helped heart and lung function by lowering pressures, diminishing release of harmful hormones and decreasing anxiety among hospitalized heart failure patients,” according to the American Heart Association.

Dana Neuman is a volunteer who heads the Stamford pet program. She started volunteering at the hospital with Oso, her 85-pound Bernese mountain dog, four years ago.

Oso — which means bear in Spanish — is a member of Therapy Dog International, a nonprofit volunteer group based in Flanders, N.J., that provides qualified handlers and dogs for visitations to institutions, facilities and other places. Dogs in the Stamford program aren’t required to have any certification. They just have to be polite, good with people and comfortable in a hospital, according to Neuman.

Not all qualify — two dogs Neuman auditioned simply were not interested — they kept running for the door.

Dogs visit about an hour a week and are assigned to various departments, often based on their owners’ preferences. If Neuman had her way, there would be two dogs a day in each of the five departments, seven days a week. Currently, 18 dogs with about 16 volunteers participate in the program.

Back at the third-floor telemetry unit, the hospital staff cooed around Oso, who settled comfortably down in the middle of the work station.

“Here’s my baby,” said nurse Janice Powers. “Where have you been?”

“Oso!” cried Eileen Elliott, the unit coordinator. “He’s back.”

Oso lay on his belly, face on the ground between his paws, and looked around him.

“Oh my goodness, isn’t he cute,” said nurse Romayne Yingling.

“You know I love you so much, silly boy,” Powers said, rubbing the dog.

Meanwhile, Daisy arrived for her second visit to the heart-monitoring unit.

The dog’s full name is Daisy Mae Hertz, and her great-grandfather won best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club in 1999, and her grandfather won best in breed in 2002 and 2003.

Plotnick, in all black and white to match the dog, wore cat-face earrings and a cat brooch, as well as Scottish terriers on her sweater. She accompanied Daisy, whom she borrows every Monday from her neighbor, dog trainer Helene Hertz.

“Oh, can my husband see him?” Anne Duddie asked Plotnick. Duddie’s husband was in a room at the end of the hall.

Plotnick, who has three cats at home, gladly obliged. Plotnick said she would love a papillon of Daisy’s line, and is waiting until she finds a job where she can bring a dog to work. Plotnick makes frames for the Labriola Frame & Art Gallery in Stamford.

Daisy pounced on Andrew Duddie’s bed and onto his chest.

“How are you doing?” he asked the dog.

Daisy pounced around and on Duddie — the benefit of weighing only four pounds — then hopped off and scampered across the hall.

“Daisy, come!” Plotnick cried.

Daisy quickly turned around and bounded back and onto Andrew Duddie’s bed once more.

“Grrrrrr, grrrrr,” Duddie, 80, teased the dog, scratching her with two hands.

The Duddies had a “Heinz 57,” a mutt, who died a while back. The couple never replaced the dog because it was too much to care for as they aged. Instead, they play with their daughters’ pets.

Daisy pranced up above Duddie’s pillow, and Anne Duddie leaned in for a quick lick. “Gimme some lovin’,” she asked of Daisy.

Copyright © 2005, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.

2 people thinks stuff!

  1. ~ OH ~ …. I know how therapeutic it can be to have a Papillon Lick your forehead .. I get Maxxie to do that to me all the time! 🙂

    Comment by HART on December 17, 2005 8:33 pm

  2. […] Duplicate Post from – Blog […]

    Comment by - [The Blog] » Dogs bring health dose of affection to hospital - A Website For All Earthlings, Who Love Animals on December 17, 2005 8:39 pm

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