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Pet therapy during the holidays

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There may be, “No Place Like Home for the Holidays,” but sometimes we may find a family member or loved one making the hospital home during the holiday season. 

That is why Intermountain Medical Center has found ways to bring a little “home” and a few extra smiles to our patients with visits from our four-footed furry friends.

Intermountain Healthcare contracts with Intermountain Therapy Animals and Therapy Animals of Utah to bring therapy dogs into the hospital.

Caregivers and patients all agree pet therapy comforts patients and families who may be missing their own pets at home.  The visits also calms patients and family members and gets their mind off of their troubles. They bring smiles to those who love animals and research shows may even lower people’s blood pressure.

Behind every 4-legged caregiver is also a dedicated master caregiver who works hard to bathe, brush and groom these furry volunteers every time they set paws through the front door.

Susan Daynes is just one of those masters who has been volunteering for 17 years. She began volunteering as a way of give back to Intermountain LDS Hospital after her son was paralyzed during an accident at Lake Powell and spent time in the Rehab unit. Daynes remembers the therapy dogs who helped her own son and decided she could bring joy to others through therapy dogs. She now has 4,715 volunteer hours.

Linda Richards has been visiting Intermountain Medical Center for three years with her dog Lizzie who is a Goldendoodle.

“Lizzie helps patients feel like a person again and allows them to briefly forget about upcoming tests, procedures, scary life-changing diagnoses,” says Richards, “Petting Lizzie helps freeze happiness in time for a moment because they just focus on the dog and everything else that is of concern can briefly fade away, giving emotional and physical relief.”

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