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Volunteer Resources, in partnership with Therapeutic Paws of Canada, have added two new special volunteers to their roster. Bodhi and Teddy recently began visiting patients in the Inpatient Psychiatry Unit at Toronto General Hospital and 5A and 5B at Toronto Western Hospital.
"The response from patients has been amazing," says Ivetka Vasil, Volunteer Resources Manager, TGH & TWH. "The dogs' visits have improved patients' experiences and recovery in surprising ways."
Pet therapy is not new to Inpatient Psychiatry at Toronto General; the unit had the services of Chestnut, a lovely golden retriever, from April 2006 to May 2008. After a one-year hiatus, Therapeutic Paws is back at UHN and promises to expand the number of pet therapy dogs. In the next couple of months, both hospitals will be getting their second pet therapy dogs.
Meet BodhiBodhi is short for "bodhisattva," meaning an enlightened being. Like most bulldogs, he is tenacious and stubborn, but age and bad knees due to a previous injury have slowed him down a bit. Bodhi's innate compassionate nature for all people and four-legged creatures alike sets him apart from the pack. According to owner Kyra Crilly, his favourite activity is "stoop sitting" – he loves to sit on a stoop in a crowded area and people watch. When he's not out and about, he's cuddling up with his cat, Miko, for a 26-hour nap. He also loves babies and children and enjoys being inspected, prodded and hugged by tiny hands.
Meet TeddyTeddy is a six-year old goldendoodle, which means he is a cross between golden retriever and a standard poodle with wonderful qualities of both breeds. Goldendoodles were developed as a crossbreed in Australia so that people who were allergic to traditional assistance breeds (retrievers, labs ) would be able to have a hypo-allergenic partner.
Teddy has the intelligence and height of the standard poodle and also possesses the sweet disposition and gentleness of the golden retriever. He loves people and other dogs – both small and large – and enjoys being petted, running after balls, chasing squirrels and snoozing. He spends his weekdays with other dogs while his human is at work.
Editor's note: PMH began working with Therapeutic Paws in 2007, when owner Mary-Lea brought her Weimaraner, Koko, in for weekly visits to 16P (the palliative care unit). Working closely with Infection Control, PMH was one of the first cancer care centres to successfully offer this program to oncology patients.