A slobbery kiss, a wagging tail, a judgement-free smile. There are few things better than the love and attention of a canine companion. At Renown Health, we have a loyal and playful group of pet therapy teams. This volunteer program uses animal-assisted interactions (AAI) and animal-assisted therapy (AAT) to provide comfort, reduce boredom, increase social interactions, improve mood, boost general well-being and – perhaps most importantly – bring smiles to our patients’ faces. Benefits of AAT & AAI: Lowers blood pressure and heart rate by relieving anxiety Helps in pain management Eases feelings of depression, loneliness, boredom and isolation Stimulates communication Encourages physical activity For more information about the program, a complete list of our teams or to get involved, click here. Meet Keno and Linda Linda, Keno’s human, has volunteered as one-half of a therapy dog team for more than 14 years. Keno is her third Newfoundland, and he is a sweet and cuddly 2-year-old pup, who, according to Linds, thinks is a lap dog. “My mother was in assisted living for almost 10 years, and I saw what an impact a therapy dog can have,” Linda said. When she moved to Reno from Portland six years ago, she immediately contacted Renown. A Memory the Stands Out: A patient in the ICU was not responsive because of oxygen deprivation due to almost drowning. Linda and Keno went into the patient’s room at his physical therapist’s request, and the therapist asked the patient to reach out and pet the dog. After the third request, he moved his hand toward the dog, and his mother burst into tears. It was the first time the patient had moved since his accident. Linda and Keno went back several days in a row, and soon the patient was talking, sitting up and eating on his own. Meet Madi and Clark Madi, Clark’s human, is an employee at Renown, and Clark made it a family affair by joining the team in Sept. 2021. Clark is a unique pup with an amazing demeanor who adores everyone as much as they adore him. He is a hardworking Goldendoodle who loves to be a goofball at home when he’s off the clock. Why They Became a Therapy Dog Team: Madi was inspired to get Clark trained as a therapy dog because, as an employee at Renown, she was always so happy to see dogs walking around, and she knew that I wanted to provide that same relief to others. Her favorite thing about being a Renown volunteer is the joy it spreads to those working and the patients they are caring for. Meet Richard and Raven Raven is a four old Belgian Malinois who has been working as a therapy dog for two and a half years. She is calm, friendly and loves having her tummy rubbed. “The therapy dog teams are just one little part of Fighting the Good Fight,” Raven’s human Richard said. A Memory that Stands Out: Raven and Richard were assigned to the Sierra oncology ward one shift and visited a woman who had a picture of her dog displayed next to her bed. Raven immediately went to the bedside and the patient started petting her. As she spent more time petting Raven, Richard could see the stress disappearing from her face. He later learned that it was the patient’s first chemotherapy infusion, and Raven gave her the peace and the strength she needed to face the chemotherapy head-on. Meet Savannah and Hallie Hallie and Savannah’s journey as a therapy dog team began in 2017 at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in New York and has also taken them to San Francisco General Hospital and Stanford Hospital. The duo moved to Reno in 2020 and immediately joined the Renown Pet Therapy Program. A friend, energetic and cuddly American Cocker Spaniel, Hallie especially loves spending time with the young children at the hospital. A Memory That Stands Out: Savannah remembers one visit to a patient in the Children’s Emergency Room who was struggling with suicidal thoughts. Having struggled with mental health herself, Savannah felt a deep connection to the patient and a need to help. She recalls placing Hallie on the patient’s bed a seeing a “very small hint of a smile.” Savannah later learned that the Renown nurses hadn’t seen the patient smile in days. It was that moment that made Savannah realize what a profound impact Hallie can have on patients. Meet Chivas and Donna Chivas was a McNab/Border Collie mix who volunteered at Renown with her human Donna for two years. With help from Donna, Chivas was a master at reading situations in the hospital and reacting accordingly. For example, if a patient was afraid of dogs, she would sit with her back to the person so she didn’t come off as threatening. Contrarily, she would lie down on the floor when playing with young children to let them pet her on their level. Why They Became a Pet Therapy Team: This dynamic duo started out as a member of a local pet therapy group. During the height of the COVID-19 shutdown, they participated in outdoor pet therapy parades for various hospitals in the area. Donna and Chivas met Renown Volunteer Coordinator Wendy Peuket at one of the parades and she inspired Donna to pursue becoming a registered therapy dog team for Renown's Therapy Dog Program. Chivas sadly passed away unexpectedly in early December 2021, and the world is a whole lot dimmer place without Chivas’ light shining brightly.
This holiday season, don't forget about your favorite furry friends by baking these easy, AKC-approved dog treats. Simple ingredients and quick baking times make this the ideal last-minute surprise. Make it a gift by picking up affordable canisters (usually abundant at dollar and thrift stores) and filling them with homemade treats. It makes the merriest, pet-friendly gift of the season!