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Dogs in the Hospital

Before getting Crohn’s, I never spent time in the hospital (except for birth). Since I was diagnosed in 2006, I have spent close to five hundred days in various hospitals along the east coast. The only times that I have had seen therapy dogs during my stays were in Abington Memorial Hospitals and Temple Hospital. During my stay in Abington in the summer of 2007 for listeria, the volunteers would bring around dogs to help patients cope. I had never heard of such a thing, and to be honest I thought it was quite odd to see animals in the hospital! But what did I know?

When the volunteer came to my room with a therapy dog, I was startled at first.

I don’t like animals that I don’t know, so I reacted accordingly. I then started to question my mom why there was a dog in my hospital room. The volunteer and my mother explained to me that the dog was optional for visiting, and if I really did not feel comfortable they would leave. My mom suggested that I give the dog a chance. It had been two and half weeks since I had been outside or had any interaction with friends. I started petting the dog, and I instantly loved it. It really took my mind off of being in the hospital. It sat next to me for a while, as I watched TV. It was comforting! The hospital volunteer left the dog in my room for a while. It was great!

Fast forward about a year and half later.

I was fighting for my life in Temple Hospital. The reversal of my ostomy surgery showed that my intestines were infected and I was unable to be closed. I had developed a very large fistula that was draining tons of bile a day. I also came down with MRSA and staph infections. After my pulse oxygen levels dropped to the seventies, I was placed on life support to help me breathe. I was not awake, but my parents told me later that they would bring the support dogs around the ICU for patients.

I don’t know how true this was, but apparently when my parents, or other family members would speak to me, I would make movements, and even smile! They also said that I would get agitated at times. Now of course I don’t remember any of this, as I was on twenty-four hour Ativan and Morphine drip.

One thing they did say was that when the therapy dogs were in my room, my pulse would be at a calming slow pace.

My breathing was under control, and I was not agitated. Now that’s amazing! They also said a guitar player would come to my room to bring a soothing scene.

I believe that therapy dogs are not just for the patients, but for the patient’s family as well. My mother made a great connection with a therapy dog while I was in the hospital. Since she spent so much time there, it brought her some peace. Also my mother connected with the volunteer that would accompany the dogs around the hospital. The nice lady brought peace for her as well.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    12 months ago

    Dogs. are. the. best!! I never had a dog visit me at the hospital but I love this story! I would have loved to have one come to my room when I was ill, I feel like I would have benefited immensely. It is so depressing being stuck in the hospital for weeks (as you would know way too well) and having a dog visit sounds like a dream.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

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