The late humorist Will Rogers said, “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went.”
No question. A dog’s presence can melt away human troubles. One look in those trusting eyes, and all seems right with the world.
That was the motivation behind The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s innovative Buckeye Paws Program, which launched in March when front-line health care workers were feeling the initial mental, physical and emotional strain of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since then, the program’s certified therapy dogs have been bringing comfort and emotional support to help the resilience of patient care staff, faculty and students. ICU Nurse Caitlin Eilbacher says the dogs help to keep her and her co-workers going.
“On a long, stressful day in the ICU, when these dogs come in, people’s moods change in an instant,” Eilbacher says. “They bring so much joy and make us all so happy. They give us a burst of energy.”
Buckeye Paws is part of the medical center’s Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program. Their four dogs—Shiloh, Ellie, Radar and Brienne—are certified through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD). The program, which follows ATD’s guidelines, avoids contact with anyone who cannot or does not wish to interact with the dogs.
Kristina Layton, MS, RN, the director of nursing for the Medical-Surgical Department, says the dogs are fulfilling the program’s mission by helping staff, including her, regenerate while on the job.
“There is just something about a dog’s presence that calms people, brightens their mood, and allows them time to decompress, even if only for a quick moment,” Layton says. “When I get a surprise visit from Shiloh or Brienne it is the best part of my day! Thank you Buckeye Paws!”
To learn more about Buckeye Paws, visit the Buckeye Paws website here.
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