Edward Hospital’s Animal-Assisted Therapy Testing

There’s a new pack of dog’s bringing comfort and joy to patients at Edward Hospital. But to get there, these pups had to go through several rounds of screening.

“Can your dog sit, heel, what is your dog’s relationship with other dogs, whether they be family dogs or dogs that they meet at the dog park. Does your dog like people? That’s very important,” said Cynthia Brooks, Trainer and Tester for Edward-Elmhurst Health’s Animal-Assisted Therapy Program.

And it wasn’t just the dogs on display, their owners also had to pass the test.

“With the obedience control, it’s how the owner and the dog work together with the leash on, together as a team. Because they’re a team, the dog doesn’t bring themself, the owner has to learn to manage the dog in a variety of different settings,” said Susan Jakobs, Professional Dog Coach, and Tester for Edward-Elmhurst Health’s Animal-Assisted Therapy Program.

To gauge the pups reactions to some of these settings, there were group exercises and one on one testing, both assessing the dog’s obedience and temperament.

“Of course we want dogs that would be willing to go up to strangers and be of a therapeutic effect if you will, to provide some comfort and some happiness while the patient, and their families and visitors are in the hospital,” said Brooks.

And the preparation doesn’t stop here, after being accepted, these new therapy dogs and their owners will do additional training before hitting the hospital halls.

Brooks explains, “Teach how to approach a person in the hall, how to approach children, how to approach a patient. Whether they be in a bed, whether they be walking or whether they be in a chair.”

There are therapy dogs visiting patients everyday at Edward Hospital, and these new recruits will start making the rounds in August.

Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers reports.

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