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Therapy Dogs Anxious To Get Back To Volunteering

May 5, 2020

They bring joy to patients and staff but, like all visitors, the coronavirus pandemic has locked therapy dogs out of many hospitals.

The pack that volunteers at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital is anxious to be back. They said so in a special video message to the doctors, nurses and staff.

Opal and her person, Elaine, said they definitely miss everybody.

Chevy’s handler, Maddie, said, “Every time we walk past the hospital, she gets super excited then super sad because she can’t come to see you guys.”

It’s been about 6 weeks since the coronavirus cut off the volunteer canine therapy squad from their weekly visits to UCHealth.

One dog expressed his dismay at being furloughed, “Hi, it’s me Julep. I miss seeing all of you and the delicious treats you give me.”

For Jenny Ricklefs, Manager of Volunteer Services and Shadowing, the feeling is mutual.

“The dogs bring love,” she said.

She calls the friendly canines stress relievers for both patients and staff.

“Nothing is quite as wonderful as just a few moments of snuggle with a great dog,” Jenny told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

The pups are prepared to get back to work.

Five-year-old Lucy looks quite fetching in a gown, gloves and mask.

“We are anxiously awaiting the go-ahead to come back to the hospital,” said her handler, Dr. Rich O’Day.

In the meantime, he put together the video ‘Thank You’.

On it, volunteers told the staff, “You are awesome and amazing.” “You guys be safe.”

“Thank you for being the heroes you are every day, especially now.”

Being back on the job for the dogs will be the “ulti-mutt.”

Until then, Julep told the staff, “I love you guys.”

No bones about it.

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