By Wednesday, July 17, 2019 12 No tags Permalink

Pet Therapy Doodle days with Harley and Jaxson are never typical but are always full of tail wagging happiness…

Harley takes his J.O.B. quite seriously…

No matter where I go, when people find out what I do, they are pleasantly intrigued and full of questions. So I thought pawhaps YOU might be interested in what they do on any given doodle day!

Here are the more pawpular questions I answer regularly –


Most pet therapy organizations have policies in place for therapy handlers “humans” to abide by. One of those rules address the maximum number of hours a therapy pup should volunteer. The common timeframe is usually between two and three hours per day.

As a “paid” employee of the hospital, the Boys are insured by my employer which technically removes them from this rule. But I pay close attention to the hours they’re spending at the hospital. Harley will generally work once or twice a week. He’s almost eleven years old and I am super conscience about not “over-working” him. He typically works on Mondays and on occasion Fridays. His schedule depends a great deal on Jaxson’s commitments.


Interesting enough – they both have different responsibilities. Harley is your “Animal Assisted Activity” (AAA) therapy dog. He’s the one you call on to help a patient with anxiety, high blood pressure, loneliness and depression. Still within the weight range to jump up on your bed – he’s able to give patients lots of cuddle time if that’s what they want…

If it’s snuggles and cuddles you’re looking for – then Harley’s your Dood!

Harley has been known to travel on the gurney with children into pre-op if need be. He’s comforted many a young patient until they are sedated for a surgical procedure.

Harley is also “that Dood” who ends up in marketing photoshoots…

Never phased – but always accommodating…

As you can see – he isn’t phased much by his celebrity status…

Lights, camera, action – but this is about all you’ll get!

Jaxson is more active and full of endless energy, so in addition to doing AAA work, he’s utilized in a therapeutic capacity. We call that “Animal Assisted Therapy” (AAT). This means he works with one patient, and one therapist with specific therapeutic goals, strategies and outcome measures. 

He’s a huge hit with both the medical and University staff…

A bundle of energy mixed well with loads of affection for everyone!

On any given day, he and I will show up either on or off campus responding to a staff’s pet therapy request…

You can tell this is a “pet friendly” office environment…

He visits all the offices and loves interrupting/attending staff meetings…

He could care less that they were engrossed in some pretty serious stuff…

Since January, Jaxy has been “beta testing” Canine Assisted Stroke Rehabilitation and the patient response has been incredible! He spends time with stroke patients helping them walk, reach, balance and bend, preparing them for out patient rehab. Occupational and physical therapy patients will also request him for their appointments from time to time.


I would like to think there are patients they remember and get excited to see again. Jaxson has a few children who come back for infusions on a routine bases. They call for him by name and his tail starts wagging out of control.

Then there’s Harley – do you remember when he rang the cancer bell with his favorite nurse Jennifer? Well, the other day we went to the new Children’s Medical Pavilion where she now works and it was quite the reunion…

Harley & Jennifer

Harley has all the patience in the world for all the humans in the world…

This went on forever – had to get myself a chair LOL


It’s actually happening more often now. Most memorable one that comes to mind occurred last winter. Harley was scheduled to assist with an occupational therapy session which turned into something much more. The injuries sustained by a young lady created seizures. Harley stayed on her gurney for several hours. He literally rode the seizures with her, and cuddled after they subsided…

Immensely proud of this Dood that day!

Months later while the pet therapy teams were greeting travelers at the Charleston International Airport, I heard a squeal coming from the direction of the baggage carousels. There she was – huge smile on her face, screaming Harley’s name to the top of her lungs. People stopped and stared as Harley ran directly to her and leaped in her arms. He remembered her – he knew who she was…

Talk about a public reunion – Geez


I used to think so, but I have since changed my mind.  Modern Dog Magazine summed it up nicely for me, here’s a snippet from a very interesting article –

A dog will have all of the basic emotions: joyfearangerdisgust, and, yes, love, but the dog does not experience the more complex emotions like guiltpride, and shame.

I watch both Boys closely. So far their days are filled with lot’s of love and a little bit of romance. Jaxson’s smittened with a mini Goldendoodle therapy dog named Holly…

Jaxson & Holly after the 4th of July Parade

We have meaningful days together especially on those special event days – like our 4th of July parade where many of the 84 teams come out to play…

Just a handful of the greatest pet therapy teams EVER!!!! #pettherapyrocks

I make sure we play in between patients – so my office is full of balls…

When he grabs his ball and jumps in the chair – I know he’s ready for a break!

But when we get home – it’s lights out! He’s fallen asleep in the foyer right next to where I’ve taken off my work sneakers…

Works hard, plays hard and sleeps hard – that’s my Dood

I feel blessed beyond measure to work in a field that I am so passionate about and have the two creatures I love with all my heart right there with.

Our hospital’s mission statement ends with “we’re changing what’s possible in healthcare.” I’d like to think each and everyday the Boys and I (along with the other pet therapy teams) are doing just that!

Thanks so much for reading – come back soon!

Life is a gift – wake up everyday and realize that ❤️

  • Jenifer Teston
    July 17, 2019

    Harley is my all time favorite guy! Thank you for what you do all day, every day. You make a difference.

    • Cathy Bennett
      July 23, 2019

      Jenifer you hold a very special place in our hearts. Thank you for making Harley feel so incredibly unique!

  • Rags & Molly
    July 17, 2019

    Right on Doodle Mom !!

    • Cathy Bennett
      July 23, 2019

      Thanks so much Capt Jim 🙂

  • Pat Broccoli
    July 18, 2019

    Good Morning Cathy, loved reading this and what your boys do. It just warms my heart with appreciation for the time and effort that you and other therapy “humans” volunteer and provide so much love and support to the patients and people needing that support and love from these beautiful “angels”.

    • Cathy Bennett
      July 23, 2019

      Hi Pat! How are you? Thank you so much – I feel so blessed to be able to have this opportunity to not only work in this field, but to have two doods who participate AND the ability through this blog to share all that we experience. Blessed – I feel so truly blessed! Hope all is well on your end!

  • Madison
    July 18, 2019

    Gramma was in the hospital last week and they offered therapy dog service. She kindly said she has her own therapy granddogs. Everyone tells Mom Bailie needs to be a therapy dog, but Mom isn’t interested. Maybe she could come and live with you boys and do therapy work? We would come and visit now and then. Wait, Mom might miss her too much so that wouldn’t work. Enjoy your work, boys!

    • Cathy Bennett
      July 23, 2019

      I hear you Madison and I receive it. Everything isn’t for everybody. That’s why I love reading about your sister’s nose work and your swimming. I live vicariously through you all for those adventures! Tell your mom never stop writing about them – I love reading.

  • Monika, Sam & Elsa
    July 18, 2019

    AAT pets are amazing. Bless you all for what you do. I’m gonna miss this work in the near future. Sam is approaching 14 and about ready for retirement.

    • Cathy Bennett
      July 23, 2019

      I feel you on the age thing, Harley isn’t going as much as he used to either. I am grateful to have Jaxson and Doodle Dad is home so Harley does errands with him which makes his days special as well. Can’t believe it – but I have been asked to attend the Pet Partners Conference this Sept in TX. I am too excited to be able to listen to professionals in the AAT / AAI world. Will definitely share my experience!

  • Annie
    July 23, 2019

    These two dogs are adorable! So glad I found this blog. It will be a great place to visit for a few minutes when I’m stressed during the working day and need something pleasant for a few minutes.

    • Cathy Bennett
      July 23, 2019

      Hi Annie – thanks so much – this was a hectic day for me, so to come home, grab a glass of wine and read your comment was just what this pet therapy handler needed. Please come back as often as you want to – let me know what you’d like to hear and ask any questions you’ve got on your mind. Take care –