Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital's Pet Therapy Program Brings Comfort to Patients

August 08, 2013


DETROIT – It is likely that many patients staying in the hospital will receive visits from friends, family and loved ones during their stay. But at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, patients also have the chance to be visited by Leo, the Golden Retriever William, the yellow Labrador Retriever or seven other dogs that comprise the hospital’s Pet Therapy program.

Dogs bring a comfort level to those in the hospital. In one room, a patient was overcome with emotion as Leo walked into the room with his handler. Leo, with his blue bandanna dangling from his neck, stood bedside as the patient, his eyes welling up, petted him. In another, William, with his brown button eyes, was just what this patient needed to lift her spirits.

“It is unbelievable to see the work that these dogs do,” said Tina Strait, Henry Ford Wyandotte volunteer coordinator. “Each patient’s demeanor immediately changes to a smile upon a visit from one of our therapy dogs.”

The program has been enhancing patients’ stay one furry friend at a time since September 2012. Leo, at 7 years old, is the veteran of the team of nine dogs, which includes a Labradoodle, English Sheepdog and Cocker Spaniel mix. Multiple times during the week the therapy dogs are escorted by their handlers throughout the hospital in hopes of reducing patients’ stress levels and boosting their spirits.

Henry Ford Wyandotte has seen a continued demand for dogs to visit patients, and is looking for more dogs to add to its program. All dogs are certified through an accredited agency, and are up-to-date with their immunizations and parasite control.

Pet therapy programs are also offered at Henry Ford Hospital, Henry Ford Macomb and Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.

Volunteers interested in joining the Wyandotte program may contact Tina Strait at (734) 246-6053.