The University of Iowa Hospitals and clinics
is a place full of doctors, nurses, and volunteers who help provide the highest quality care,
but when it comes to patient morale the UIHC will sometimes turn to a special kind of volunteer.
Furry friends is a volunteer based program that has brought joy to patients and staff
for 10 years now. There are two parts to this program including a Family pet visitation
program were a family member can bring in their dog from home and then a Certified Pet
Visitation Program when a volunteer brings the love of their dog to share with hospital
patients. Spirits are lifted when they spot a wagging tail at their door and the bright
eyes of their favorite four legged friend come to say hello. It’s not something you
can really I don’t think quantify exactly. It’s more just the presence, the feeling you
get from the patients. Somethings different when the dogs there and they’re happier. Maybe
they’ve had a lot of tests, they’ve had shots, blood drawn and everything. Another nurse
or doctor comes in and they’re like ‘oh my goodness’ and then they see a dog come in
and you see a big smile come across they’re face and when he does his tricks and sits
up and you hear ‘oh it’s so cute. This program is always looking for new dog teams to spend
time at the hospital, and volunteers have found it to be truly rewarding. You go through
a handlers course, I did and then you teach them from a work book they have, what they
need to know. It’s really really rewarding to see the people, everybody smiles and laughs
and just takes their mind off of things for a while. Looby has a gift, he’s good with
people and it’s up to me to want to share that with people. and I enjoy doing it and
I love doing as a matter of fact. I think it’s just meant to be he’s just really good
with kids and with the patients. He loves to be petted, so this is the perfect job for
him.

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