Dogs have the power to help and to heal. That’s why the Doggie Brigade has been around for over 25 years, bringing joy, happiness, and speedy recoveries to the patients of Akron Children’s Hospital, Ohio.
This organization is not only America’s second longest-running animal assistance program, but also one of its biggest. Originally beginning with just eight handlers who were limited to a single 2-hour visiting period on just one floor with only one pooch per time back in 1992, the group has now had over 80 different pup volunteering for up to 12 years each!
Today, these dogs are able to go to almost all the areas inside the hospital, and each patient sees them for around 5 to 10 minutes. They’ve been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, lower the blood pressure of patience, and even help kids feel more comfortable with their treatment programs and with staff and volunteers.
If you live in the Akron area and would like your pup to join the Doggie Brigade, it can happen! Your pup must be a minimum of one year old and have lived with you for a minimum of six months in order to be eligible, and they must also pass behavioral and veterinary assessments. If accepted, your pup must be able to commit to making not less than 26 hospital visits and two special event participations annually – though there’s no upper limit to how many visits teams can make! Applications are accepted in January each year, and all tests are run in March.
Don’t live in the area? Chances are, there are similar programs near you! Some will require a Canine Good Citizen certification or similar. Don’t be afraid to participate and see if your pup can help patients and make their days better!
Feature Image Source: AkronChildrens