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Therapy Dogs Visit Hospital

December 17, 2020

Since 1991, Happy Tails Pet Therapy dogs have been a frequent and welcome sight across Atlanta, in nursing homes, schools and hospitals.

However, when COVID-19 hit, all that stopped. Nine months later, the visits have finally resumed at Piedmont Hospital — for the staff.

“To have them here and their fuzzy faces, it just brings back a smile that you don’t have sometimes during these times of the pandemic,” said Sharon Eaton, a staff member at Piedmont Hospital.

“I did a happy dance, I was so excited,” Eaton said.

Happy Tails volunteer, Jerry Coker, said it’s not just the humans who are excited. He said the time spent apart was also hard on the dogs, like his Golden Retriever, Norma-Jean.

“This is what she loves to do — interact with people and give them some happiness,” Coker said.

While these visits will still follow guidelines, like staying outside and the volunteers and staff are wearing masks, there’s no hiding the joy that is now returning to the hospital staff and the dogs.

“It’s a diversion. It helps you get a respite and regroup and there are a lot of unhappy things going on here right now,” said staff member Mark Galvin. “They really bring such joy to everybody here.”

While there’s no way to know when the dogs will be allowed back inside the hospital, they hope to continue to schedule these outside visits with the staff until that time.

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