Gus the Therapy Dog Spreads Pawsitivity

[jaunty music] So I love Eskenazi for so many reasons. Right now here we are in the lobby, there’s a concert going on behind me, Gus is here dressed up for the holidays, all this light is coming in through the windows increasing our serotonin levels. Sickness for many people if you ask them to describe it, it’s darkness, it’s hopelessness, it’s fear, and we’re going to combat all that with positivity, with light, with laughter, with dogs, with music, with art. All those things that we describe as the humanities come together here. The lobby of Eskenazi hospital here in Indianapolis is one of the most diverse, special, well lit, positive places in the whole city. And you can just sit here for an hour and take it all in and you’ll see what I’m saying. People are walking by with smiles on their faces. They’re stopping by to hear the music. They’re pausing and taking a moment just to be thankful and reflect. So I love it here and love working here. I practice pulmonary and intensive care medicine here and I deal with a lot of really sick patients and see a lot of suffering everyday. I really wanted to know how I, as a doctor, both through prescribing medicines but also through my words and actions can infuse positivity and lift people’s spirits through their illnesses to give them encouragement and hope and positivity. And so it’s through studying the hormones that I came to learn about things like serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins and the power that those hormones can have on people and their outlook on life. Dogs are awesome for so many reasons. We know through some literature that if you take a dog and pet a dog for 20 minutes believe it or not, your oxytocin levels, that’s one of your positivity hormones actually increase in your blood and the dog’s oxytocin levels go up as well. So that’s really cool. We love seeing our therapy dogs interact both with our patients but also with our staff, with our students, and our therapists and our nursing staff, we’re just kinda lifting positivity for everybody. I’ve been sitting here with Gus for 20 minutes and about 50 people have walked by and we’re 50 for 50 on smiles, so all 50 people have smiled. Smiling releases, you know, endorphins. Laughing releases endorphins. Having his hat fall off, and dressing him up, and some humor, holiday cheer… endorphins. Which is a positivity hormone just like oxytocin. It’s all part of the process. I like having my partner here. We bring our therapy dogs in with us in the wards in the ICUs to give patients a break, kinda remind them that there’s life outside of the four walls of their hospital room. Get a little oxytocin boost through some petting and hand out some smiles at the same time. [jaunty music]

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