Our newest hospital volunteer works like a dog. But Taurus, a 4-year-old standard schnauzer, doesn’t mind.
Taurus and his owner, volunteer Doreen Madera, officially launched the first pet therapy program at Fairview Northland Medical Center in Princeton, Minn., on March 10.
The team will make weekly visits to patients on our Med/Surg and Infusion Therapy areas. Fairview has pet therapy programs at five of our six hospitals.
“I’ve been looking forward to bringing pet therapy here for a long time,” says Jen Elbert, specialty practice and volunteer and coordinator at Fairview Northland.
“Dog volunteers comfort patients in a special way and can ease anxiety and pain before a procedure or during their stay with us. This program is a great addition to our services.”
If you have the opportunity to meet Doreen and Taurus, you’ll know—spreading joy and hope comes naturally to them.
Taurus and Doreen first visited our hospital with Jen for a meet-and-greet with the Med/Surg and Infusion Therapy staff to acclimate them to volunteer procedures.
For example, when volunteers visit patient rooms, it’s important that they “foam in and out” (use hand sanitizer) when entering and leaving. Taurus will also be cleaned in between patient visits for infection prevention purposes.
After the staff meet-and-greet, they stopped by patient Sue Unger’s room for a visit.
“Paws up, Taurus!” Doreen commanded, which tells Taurus to put his paws on her lap or a towel on a patient bed to visit.
Doreen’s been a competitive obedience trainer and lover of dogs for years. When the opportunity arose to take in Taurus, who was from Oklahoma, she jumped at it.
“Taurus did so well in competitive obedience when I first had him. After a year, he decided he didn’t want to do that anymore,” says Doreen.
“I love interacting with people, and he’s so well-behaved; he whines when you aren’t petting or playing with him. Volunteering seemed like the best next step for the both of us.”
Doreen started training with Pet Partners—a program that certifies and trains owners and pets to be involved with therapy. With his background in competitive obedience, Taurus was a good candidate.
Taurus and Doreen will visit Fairview weekly, along with other pet therapy animals, in the coming months.
To learn more about volunteering at Fairview, visit our volunteering webpage.
And, if you happen to see Taurus, be sure to say, “Hello.” You’re sure to get a wag.