Patients, visitors and staff at The University of Toledo Medical Center may see a new furry face around the hospital.
Anna, a golden retriever and comfort dog from Trinity Lutheran Church and School, visits with patients and their families at UTMC to reduce stress, facilitate conversation and interaction, and brighten the atmosphere of the hospital.“Anna has been very well received at UTMC,” said Nancy Borders, top dog trainer for Trinity Lutheran Church Ministry. “She often puts smiles on peoples’ faces and makes their day when they see her.”
When recently making the rounds, Anna met Susan Chilcote Bagley from Los Angeles; she was waiting for her father to get out of surgery.
“Any animal coming around calms you and makes you feel relaxed,” Bagley said. She added it was great to see Anna since she was missing her dogs back home.
UTMC Staff Nurse Hannah Aiyewunmi said Anna made a positive impact on her patient, James Mitchell. She said he expressed sadness for not having his family members around, and Anna improved his mood.
“She really did cheer me up; she made my day,” Mitchell said.
Anna has a team of 15 caregivers, handlers and assistant handlers from Trinity Lutheran Church and School, and at least two accompany her while she visits UTMC.
The canine came to Trinity Lutheran Church and School through Lutheran Church Charities in July 2015. Anna visits schools, nursing homes, fire stations and other locations in northwest Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. Through Lutheran Church Charities, Anna has received training on the same level as that of a service dog.
Lutheran Church Charities has more than 100 comfort dogs in churches throughout the country. They have responded to emergencies such as the shooting at Sandy Hook in Newton, Conn., the Boston Marathon bombing, and tornadoes in Illinois and Oklahoma.