There is no doubt about the benefits of these specially trained Poodles Who Provide Unconditional Love To Hospital Patients, as part of a Wellness Program. Because of their extremely docile and friendly nature, Poodles are one of the top choices of dog breeds for this program called Project Pup, which stands for Pets Uplifting People. The pooches are put through 13 weeks of training before they are ready to enter the hospital, where they work with trainers and visit patients. They provide a tremendous service by giving unconditional love and uplift the spirits of patients who are in great need of an emotional and spiritual boost. It’s as important as giving medicine, some say. See what the recent article about this wonderful program has to say about the remarkable Poodles Who Provide Unconditional Love To Hospital Patients.
CLEARWATER – Oliver is a standard poodle that tips the scales at roughly 60 pounds. But he and 48 other canines at Morton Plant Hospital are more than just family pets. They are part of a pet therapy program that has been credited with doing as much for patients and their loved ones as any medication.
“They ease the stress of people in waiting rooms and help patients cope with their medical issues,” said Sally Nitka, Oliver’s owner.
Launched in 1991 with a single dog, Sumi, owned by Mary Lou Warn, the dog therapy program at Morton Plant was one of the first in Pinellas County. At one point, 56 dogs were in the program. The highly skilled pooches have become friends with everyone from patients to nurses to janitors.
Suzanne Scott, manager of volunteer services, said not just any dog can become a therapy canine. Some breeds, due to their aggressive behavior and history, are barred from the program.
Breeds in the program range from toy poodles to German shepherds. All undergo intensive training and they must be certified before making their rounds at the hospital.
Under the auspices of Project PUP or Pets Uplifting People, the dogs and their owners undergo 13 weeks of training that is outlined by Therapy Dogs International, a volunteer organization dedicated to regulating and testing dogs and their volunteer handlers.
Founded in 1976, more than 24,000 dog/handler teams are now registered by TDI in the United States.
Nitka said dogs play important roles in hospitals, nursing homes and even in Hospice centers where they uplift the spirits of patients and help loved ones deal with the tragedies of terminal illnesses.
But dogs are not the only critters certified as “therapy animals.” Some facilities use cats, birds and even horses.
Everyone loves the idea of dogs visiting medical personnel and patients alike. Nurses provide them with gifts of treats, neckerchiefs and pats on the head.
“The first thing I do is ask a patient if he or she wants a four-legged visitor,” Nitka said.
Then Oliver or one of his peers takes over. Dogs are known to provide unconditional love, regardless of a human’s background, financial status or illness.
Once Oliver was asked to visit a patient who was on death’s doorstep. He placed his head under the man’s arm and stayed very quiet to provide comfort during the patient’s last living moments. Shortly thereafter the man died and his relatives were overcome with emotion.
“They could not thank Oliver enough for what he had done,” Nitka said.
It’s stories like that and a testimonial from a dying patient’s loved ones that is really touching and wonderful to hear told. Poodles and almost all dogs provide that pure kind of love that doesn’t care how old you are, if you have money or not, if you are sick or healthy, but just shows up for you 100 percent to just be there to love you. I hope this program continues and spreads to many other hospitals. If you love poodles as much as I do then I am sure you will have enjoyed this story about Poodles Who Provide Unconditional Love To Hospital Patients as much as I have.