Man’s Best Friend
IU Health Saxony Hospital Launches Pet Therapy Program
Story & Photos Provided by IU Health Saxony
If you are a pet owner, you know how it feels when your dog greets you at the door, or when your cat snuggles with you on the couch. Imagine recreating that same feeling at a hospital. That’s what Peter and Nancy Canning are doing with their dog Quigley at IU Health Saxony Hospital in Fishers.
Quigley, alongside her owners, rounds the halls at IU Health Saxony Hospital, visiting individuals in hospital rooms, lobbies and waiting areas.
“There’s a growing amount of research documenting the benefits of pet therapy,” Peter says. “Individuals who receive pet therapy show decreased anxiety, increased motivation to recover and improved moods. The bond formed between an animal and a patient also can assist in improving blood pressure and heart rate levels.”
At its most basic level, pet therapy provides a dose of unconditional love. And if you meet Quigley, that is just what you can expect.
Quigley is a 10-year-old labradoodle, and she has been a registered therapy dog for five years. She visits Riley Children’s Hospital in downtown Indianapolis, IU Health North Hospital and has just recently helped establish the therapy dog program at IU Health Saxony Hospital in Fishers.
“We enjoy sharing Quigley with patients who may be having a rough day,” Nancy says. “Watching her lift spirits and offer a joyful break in someone’s day, it really makes us feel like we’re making a positive impact on our community.”
And she is not just for patients. Quigley visits team members at IU Health Saxony Hospital, too.
“The IU Health staff and caregivers often have huge smiles when they interact with Quigley,” Nancy says. “They frequently tell us that seeing Quigley makes their whole day. It feels good knowing that the joy will stay with them throughout their day as they care for patients, too.”
The Canning family learned the benefits of pet therapy firsthand. Their oldest daughter has a chronic illness, requiring a number of lengthy hospitalizations. During their stays, they saw how pet therapy lifted their daughter’s spirit. Pet therapy made her smile, and it helped her more fully engage with her care.
“When we got Quigley, we would take her with us for walks and on various errands,” Peter says. “She seemed to truly enjoy meeting people and folks responded positively to her, so we thought she might be a good therapy dog candidate. We worked on training her for about a year, and then went through the process of getting her registered.”
Peter and Nancy say they are excited about establishing a pet therapy program at IU Health Saxony Hospital and look forward to sharing Quigley with Fishers residents visiting the hospital.
IU Health Saxony Hospital is located at 13000 E 136th St in Fishers. For more information, visit iuhealth.org.