By Wednesday, October 28, 2020 6 No tags Permalink

Our hospital pet therapy re-entry has begun, but I haven’t brought the Boys back in and they are not happy Doods…

Not even a ball excited him as I packed my bags for work

My furlough ended late August and the department worked extremely hard to present a phased re-entry approach to upper management. The return of the volunteers officially started on the 15th of October. We were proud and pleased our first submission was unanimously approved. 


Our plan consists of a three phase approach, starting with a slow and cautious entrance – working side by side with hospital specialists like infection control and risk management. 

While these subject matter experts can certainly provide the proper guidance for the areas in which the human volunteers would donate their time and talents – my primary focus was on the canine component.

There are so many benefits to working at a teaching hospital – especially when it’s the top Medical University in the State! 

Finding unlimited access and guidance from the Department Chair of Veterinary Science immediately put me at ease.

Together we were able to create a phased re-entry for the pet therapy teams as well…

His name is Humphrey Bogart and the children adore him


Phase one allows the therapy dog teams visitation with two patients (nothing more) per shift. The sphere of safety minimizes and becomes compromised when you introduce too many “external” people into your circle. COVID “negative” patients are safe because they have limited exposure to others.

Proper PPE along with practiced safety measures will allow those limited visits to occur.

Prayerfully as the COVID trends for our area begin to decrease, the number of patients each therapy dog visits will increase. It’s all about the trends #nottalkingfashion…

Beasley’s Mom sent this in during our furlough – he doesn’t really wear PPE!


Even though we’re functioning a little differently, we are still present for the most part. I think the hardest rule in this first phase is asking our most loved and adored hospital humans – the nurses – to please refrain from gathering around and loving on the pups…

Care team members can “touch” the dogs in Phase II

Due to the lack of concrete evidence about the transmittal of COVID involving the canine species, we are following the guidelines and recommendations from the experts – 

Until we learn more about how this virus affects animals, treat pets as you would other human family members to protect them from a possible infection.

Because there is a risk that people with COVID-19 could spread the virus to animals, CDC recommends that pet owners limit their pet’s interaction with people outside their household.


Nurses totally “get-it” and have been incredibly supportive. They, like everyone else in the hospital, are thrilled just to see the dogs return.


It’s been a seven months absence for the volunteers. To ensure they are equipped with all the safety tools (knowledge) to operate safely during this pandemic, we are bringing them back in smaller groups to assist with the re-entry’s. 

BC (Before COVID) we were 102 therapy dogs strong. That’s a great deal of tail wagging happiness covering an entire community.

I’ve had thirty pet therapy teams return, in the last 10 days, twenty one have already walked the hospital floors! We will resume training the beginning of November and every month thereafter.

The volunteers who’ve attended the re-entry training orientation tell me – they feel safe, informed and comfortable with all that we have shared with them. They understand the importance of every phase and some are super creative with it…

Nurse Reba has many outfits, loves to wear signs and is excellent at spreading the news…

Others have gone all glitz and glamor to strut their stuff down the halls as if it’s a Couture Fashion Runway…

She’s a French Poodle and her name is “Gabanna” – need I say more?


I too feel good about our plan. While there is still NO evidence that this virus can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of pets, we are fortunate to have knowledgeable and experienced veterinarians on campus. They provide me with specific documented information on how best to safely continue with canine therapeutic assistance to those who benefit the most – the patients!

As soon as the majority of the teams are back in rotation I will start bringing the boys back for 1/2 days. 

It’s tough leaving in the morning and you have a Dood out the door before you, waiting for his leash so he can accompany you to work again…

Not that lasting picture one wants on her mind as she leaves the house.

Heartbreaking to say the least.

More to come on how NOT ready the boys are for their return to employment. #hotmessexpress

This too shall pass ❤️

  • Madison
    October 28, 2020

    Hope you can get back to it soon. I know when dog sports ended for us in March, we realized how big a part of our lives they had become and we are really addicted to them. Thankfully, we got back to it in June. It’s slightly different, but mostly the same and we are so thankful. I’m sure you boys will be back doing what you love soon.

  • Cheryl
    October 28, 2020

    I’m so glad therapy dogs are being allowed back in the hospital! Petting, holding, snuggling a dog is the best medicine around, Hopefully this will happen soon enough.
    Hang in there Harley and Jaxson, you’ll be back to work soon!

  • Jennifer Myers Teston
    October 28, 2020

    So excited for this news!! We were just talking the other day, wondering when we would start seeing pet therapy again. We all miss this component of patient care!

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 26, 2021

      Trying to get to you my friend – hoping to add out-patient clinics to the mix soon. How have you been?

  • Tails Around the Ranch
    October 28, 2020

    So happy to hear you guys are beginning to open up. With the recent third wave spike, it’s not likely we’ll get to visit any time soon. We had one event outside in front of the Emergency Dept. but was disappointed in the lack of folks who showed up (in their defense, I suspect they’re overwhelmed again) but the EMTs and police officer sure were happy to see the therapy dogs.

    Stay safe, sane and keep smiling

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 26, 2021

      I am also elated – everywhere I turn, I am finding pet therapy programs are still suspended. I feel blessed beyond measure. If you’re not busy tomorrow (1/27) I am doing a FB Live interview with Pet Partners at 3pm EST. I will be talking about my re-entry process and how we have been doing since Oct 15th when we opened. It’s a slow phased in “cautious” approach – one that seems to be working thus far. Have you all thought about doing anything virtual? We started a story time program about 6 weeks ago and it’s really starting to get some traction. Take care my friend, if you want to talk, please do not hesitate to reach out. Stay safe.

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