Calling Candidates for Best Friends Pet Therapy Program
Posted on Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dogs in our Best Friends Program make rounds in the hospital, visiting with patients, people in waiting rooms, and staff. They bring smiles and brighten the day for patients. Many patients miss their own dogs and begin talking and interacting when the dog enters the room, even if they have been withdrawn before. The hospital staff LOVES the therapy dogs, as they provide a few moments of unconditional love and a break during the busy day for employees. We have many beautiful stories of the work done by therapy dogs.

All breeds are welcome.  The dog/handler team will be initially evaluated by the program directors at NHCH according to the standards of Pet Partners (formerly Delta Society) and Therapy Dogs International.

Additionally, a temperament assessment will be done at the same time. If a team is accepted as a possible candidate for the Best Friends program, the handler will begin the volunteer application process.  This will include a background check. 

Dogs must be two years of age to qualify for the program and must be examined by the hospital’s veterinarian prior to being accepted. 

Characteristics of a therapy dog include:

            *A strong bond with its owner

            *Must be housetrained

            *Well-socialized and outgoing, must like people

            *A calm, stable personality that can handle the unexpected

            *Under handler control at all times, even when distractions occur

            *CANNOT jump up, bite, snap, paw or bark while at work

If interested in seeing if you and your dog qualify as a pet therapy team, please contact Jennifer Rabalais at 881-4825.