Caring Canines Help Patients in Plano

Therapy dogs make rounds at Plano hospital

Over the past five months, patients, staff and volunteers at Texas Health Plano have been getting some help from more than a dozen four-legged friends.

"On Friday mornings when I pull out his therapy dog bag, he knows that we're going to the hospital," said Joey Ely, a volunteer who spends time away from his Plano business on Friday mornings to bring his golden retriever, Samson, to visit patients.

Ely said Samson goes by his instincts when making rounds.

"If he turns and goes into this room, then I know that there's a reason why and, typically, when we get there, there always is," he said.

Patient Matthew Engman was one of Samson's visits.

Engman was headed home on Friday after going through an emergency appendectomy earlier in the week.

"It's pretty cool to have dogs in the hospital, just to have someone to relate to," the 15-year-old said.

On another floor, Samson and fellow therapy dog Bob visited Leontine Johnson.

Last week, at about 28 weeks pregnant, Johnson was placed on bed rest. She said the dogs' visits help break up the loneliness during the day when family cannot visit.

"I always get a good feeling when I'm home and my dog is happy to see me," she said. "That's how dogs are -- no matter how your day is, there is always someone there."

Hospital patient advocate Kate Mize, who began the Caring Canines program at Texas Health Plano, said about a dozen volunteers and 15 dogs participate with help from Pet Partners.

"It's catching on," she said.

Texas Health Resources may begin similar programs in Dallas, Fort Worth and other Dallas-Fort Worth locations.

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