Eskenazi Health is pleased to introduce its newest therapy dogs. Jovi is a 3-month-old toy poodle, and Olivia is a champion Newfoundland. 

A therapy dog is a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas and to people with learning difficulties. There are four other part-time therapy dogs that are part of Eskenazi Health Pet Therapy. 

Patients and staff can request a visit from a therapy dog any time the dogs are in the building. Nurses can arrange a visit for patients who they feel could benefit from interaction with a dog. 

"I've always loved pets and understood their contribution to our lives,” said Catrece Young, emergency medical technician (EMT) and manager of Eskenazi Health Pet Therapy. “Having Jovi with me every day is not only therapeutic for me, but I see firsthand how people respond to interacting with him. As they walk away the general reaction is always the same, 'Wow, I really needed that."

Young said patients can hold or pet the dogs. Dogs are also able to lie on the bed with patients. Unlike service dogs, which are primarily used for deaf or blind individuals, therapy dogs are trained to bring comfort to people. 

Multiple studies have been done on the affect pets have on people. One study, which was done in a long-term care facility, examined the effects of pet therapy on senior loneliness and depression. The study found there were significant improvements in the seniors’ loneliness and depression scores.

Young said a separate study showed pet therapy helped lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The study found stockbrokers who owned pets for six months and took blood pressure medication had significantly lower blood pressure than those who only took the blood pressure medication and did not own a pet. 

Jovi was specifically chosen for his breed’s intelligence and temperament. Young said she wanted the dog to be trainable. Olivia went through extensive training before she saw her first patient.

Dogs have to be at least a year old and complete three classes before they can be officially certified as a therapy dog. Jovi is still in training, but he can go to public areas on the Eskenazi Health campus and to any department as long as a manger approves the visit.

Young said there is a great need for more therapy dogs because patients are always asking for dog visits. 

The other therapy dogs at Eskenazi Health are Murphy, a golden retriever and black lab mix, Chief, a golden retriever, Luna, a Shih Tzu and Yorkie mix, and Prince, a coonhound. 

 

CONTACT: Todd Harper
Phone: 317.880.4785
Pager: 317.310.5972 
Email: todd.harper@eskenazihealth.edu