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News and Featured Stories from St. Vincent's Medical Center
Published: 01/08/2013

A Patient’s Best Friend

Many of us understand the bond felt between a pet and its owner. Unconditional love, understanding, and acceptance, are just a few values of a pet’s companionship. Qualities like these make animals ideal therapeutic visitors for patients in hospitals and other medical facilities.

Una, a two year old full grown miniature Labradoodle has recently been introduced to the patients at St. Vincent’s. The “oodle” is from generations of poodles which have made her both non-shedding and smart. The “labra” is from the soft, devoted and affectionate ancestry of the labrador retriever. Una’s owner, Patrice Foudy, DDS, a dentist in Fairfield says “Bringing Una to St. Vincent’s fulfills my desire for making people smile. Most everyone gets joy from Una’s visits, patients and staff. There is so much hard work and hard healing going on. A small break with a cuddle dog is welcome.”

Pet therapy can help in many ways, from lifting a person’s mood to increasing joint movement and helping to maintain motor skills. Petting an animal gives patients something else to focus on besides themselves. Pet therapy animals are quiet, friendly and non-threatening. They don’t expect anything and there is no pressure on the person to do or say anything.

People who are sick, lonely, or depressed will often respond to an animal offering genuine affection. Those who are severely sick may even show increased awareness. Touching and interacting with animals can help lower a person’s blood pressure and provide stress relief. It releases endorphins (oxytocin) that have a calming effect which helps to lift spirits and lessen feelings of depression and isolation.

Una usually visits patients on Wednesday. She begins in Rehab and then goes to 9 South but is always available to go to other floors as well. Una is available upon request. For more information, please call the Volunteer Services office at 203-576-5111.

 

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