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Therapy dogs raise spirits in hospitals

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By Mitch Fryer
Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Remarkable — that's the improvement a hospital patient makes when a therapy dog pays them a visit, hospital workers say they see each and every time.

“It's just remarkable how they interact, how they respond to the pets,” said Jeannie Scott, an activities director at ACMH Hospital.

“They start reminiscing about their own pets. It's something they're still talking about the next day. Pretty soon they're feeling a whole lot better.”

Scott was reacting to a visit Tuesday by Orphans of the Storm therapy dog Dauphne, a 9-year-old pug mix that loves the attention and makes everyone feel better when she comes.

“It makes you forget your troubles,” said patient, Joseph Hagofsky, 82, of West Kittanning and formerly of Ford City.

“Animals are just so giving all of the time.”

The hospital visit is done once a week by Orphans of the Storm.

The no-kill animal shelter in Rayburn also takes their therapy dog program to schools and nursing homes.

Added to United Way

The program has now been added to the United Way of Armstrong County's list of member agencies for funding.

The shelter's manager Gladine Wiles is happy to be helped by the United Way.

“We need all the help we can get,” said Wiles.

“We appreciate being a part of that agency. I think it's wonderful.”

Wiles said the funding it receives will be used in the program for maintenance of the dogs.

“It's not necessarily on the dogs,” said United Way of Armstrong County Director Emily Boarts of the funding. “This is one of those things that crosses between health and human service needs and pet needs too. It's for the therapy of the patients.”

United Way of Armstrong County board member, Jane Hess, is a dog lover. She regularly uses her own Golden Retreiver dogs to promote giving to the United Way.

“We're glad we could work with Orphans of the Storm,” said Hess. “I think it will be a very good merger. I hope it takes care of the needs of both of us. We know people want to give to them and we want to help,” she added.

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