Pet Therapy at BBH

Pet Therapy Brings Love to Bailey-Boushay House

It’s pet therapy day at Bailey-Boushay House (BBH). Here’s what you would see if you followed the Pet Partner teams as they visit residents’ rooms:

  • A resident’s brow furrowed in pain melts away and a smile emerges as her canine buddy enters the room.
  • Muscles, tense with anxiety, relax as a resident reaches out to scratch his dog buddy in his favorite spot.
  • A resident’s downcast eyes lift to meet the eyes of her dog friend and then the handler’s. Her feelings of sadness and frustration give way to the delight of the present.

“Pet therapy has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety and depression,” says Sandra Morrow, CTRS/R, recreation therapist at BBH. “Evidence of these therapeutic benefits is clear with each visit our Pet Partner teams make at Bailey-Boushay House. Dogs have an amazing way of loving fully without judgment and the ability to show their love immediately, without reserve.”

Pet Partner Team – Sasha and Dr. Holdren

Sasha, a standard poodle, is a perfect example of a loving dog. After Dr. Cynthia Holdren retired, she wanted to give back to the community. “Sasha provided the perfect opportunity,” she says. “She adores interacting with people and most people respond to her with delight and lots of petting.

We try to visit BBH weekly. When residents invite us into their rooms, Sasha goes up to them to get and give some loving. While we're there, I try to tell a bit about Sasha, learn about the resident and facilitate their interaction.

“I am fortunate to have this wonderful creature that brings so much joy to those at BBH, both residents and staff,” she notes. “Sometimes I leave a room with tears in my eyes. She is open and guileless and I frequently learn from her.”

“We work with the nonprofit organization Pet Partners that ensures both the animal and handler have successfully completed pet therapy training,” says Stephanie Pietras, manager of Volunteer Services at BBH. “We also have specific training for both owner and pet so they understand the needs of our residents. We are grateful to our Pet Partner teams who offer these beautiful connections with our residents.”

For information on how to be a Pet Partner, visit petpartners.org.

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