Therapy Dog Helps Healing

Sophie the Therapy Dog sits in her owners lapMeet Sophie! Sophie is a four-year-old Havanese certified therapy dog, working at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center through our Karing Partners therapy dog program for a little over a year.

Sophie has brought care and compassion to many patients and visitors at the hospital, but one occasion stands out above the rest.

During a routine trip to OSF St. Joseph, Sophie and her owner, Ruth Davidson, heard a Code Blue called over the intercom. A Code Blue is called when a patient experiences cardiopulmonary or respiratory arrest. Just then, a visibly upset woman in the waiting area called out to Ruth, “The dog! Bring me the dog!”

Without hesitation, Ruth sat down next to the woman and placed Sophie on her lap. The Code Blue was her daughter, who had given birth the previous week.

Sophie’s eyes were fixed on the woman. The mother spoke to Sophie, confiding in the dog her deepest thoughts and feelings.

Sophie stayed in the mother’s lap for the next two hours, allowing her to cry and share her feelings. It was obvious the dog was helping calm the woman and put her at ease with the situation.

Once the woman’s family came, she stopped relying so heavily on Sophie, and Ruth and her dog quietly slipped out.

“Sophie seems to be able to sense the needs of people very quickly,” said Ruth. “She seemed to sense her ‘service’ was no longer needed and her work for the day was complete.” Karing Partners make a difference in the lives of patients and visitors.

On this occasion, Sophie happened to be in the right place at the right time and knew instinctively what she needed to do.

OSF St. Joseph Medical Center is pleased to offer Karing Partners to patients. Karing Partners therapy dogs are brought into the hospital to bring comfort to the patients while reducing stress, anxiety, pain, and blood pressure. A visit from one of our therapy dogs also increases patient social interaction and communication.

In order to be eligible to participate in the Karing Partners Program, a dog must be certified as a therapy dog by one of three therapy dog accreditation programs. The program has a strict evaluation process in place for the safety of our patients, staff, handlers, and dogs.

For more information or to fill out an application for your dog to become a Karing Partner, please contact Volunteer Services at (309) 665-4728.