For the last 30 years, Linda Marler has dedicated much of her life to helping others smile.
"It is so much fun to see the smiles as you are walking down the hallway," said Marler. "To see the smiles on everybody’s face once they see the dog."
Marler has been working with the Baylor Scott and White Animal Assisted Therapy Program since 1989. She says while she has seen the emotional changes these dogs can bring, she has seen so much more.
"The research shows that having a dog both decreases the need for pain, decreases blood pressure, and increases the endorphins," Marler said.
Tammy Wade, who has volunteered with the assisted therapy program for the last seven years, was with Marler the day we walked the transplant floor of Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas with her.
"It’s very rewarding. Just to see them smile and just make their day," Wade said. "Some of them start crying, because they miss their dog at home. Some of them are comatose and we put them in the bed with them. [To see the] families reacting and seeing the heartrate go up or something like that, it’s amazing."
Wade and Marler agree that the animal assisted therapy program isn’t just a benefit for the patients, but the hospital staff appreciates it too.
"We actually have request from the ER director for them to come visit the ER staff, just because of the stress level," Marler said.
To learn more about the Baylor Scott and White Animal Assisted Therapy Program click here.