Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fuzzy Friends Bring Smiles to Patients, Staff and Visitors

Sentara Potomac Hospital has a Pet Therapy Program that is made up of specially trained volunteers and their dogs who have met the rigorous criteria established through Therapy Dog International and Delta Society - nationally recognized training and registration programs for people and their pets.

Research has shown that when therapy dogs visit patients in the hospital, the patients’ spirits are raised and heart rates and blood pressures decrease. Also, they help people cope with life changes, loneliness, and disease recovery.

Two new fuzzy friends have joined the Pet Therapy Team:

SuzieQ (pictured) is just beginning her work as a therapy dog with owner Leslie Harris and is excited to meet many people. She is a six-year-old Labrador retriever mix rescued from the Prince William Animal Shelter. Being a lab means that her main interest in life is eating and the only criteria is that the item will fit in her mouth. Her favorite foods are carrots, broccoli, apples, and pears. SuzieQ is not as pitiful as she looks – her sad looks are purely an enticement for someone (anyone) to love her.

Eli is a 1½ -year-old male sphynx cat. According to owner Nichole Bukowski, his personality is like that of a dog or ferret. His favorite foods include liver, cat treats, dog treats, peas, and noodles. His favorite thing to do is go to the pet store and walk around on his leash. (He likes to pick out toys!)

Eli’s breed is also known as a Canadian Hairless, but they actually do have hair -- it’s so fine and short it is hard to notice.