Janet Morgan and her golden retriever, Hannah, feel that making a child smile is a highlight of the Doggie Brigade experience at Akron Children’s Hospital.
“Being a member of the Doggie Brigade puts your life into perspective,” Janet said. “When you get to the hospital and see you helped someone, it really does make it all worthwhile. The Doggie Brigade is a big process, but it’s well worth the effort.”
Janet met Hannah on the day she was born and planned to use her for therapy as well as for obedience and agility training. Janet is a 12-year member of the Doggie Brigade with 6 year old Hannah as her third therapy dog. Her first was Snickers and the second, Rizzo.
A unique aspect of Hannah’s personality is her mellow interactions with people. “She’s very contained when she meets somebody,” Janet said. “She’ll sit as closely as she can and look up with those big brown eyes, doing a slow wag with her tail. She couldn’t get any closer or be any happier.
The passion Janet has for the Doggie Brigade doesn’t just stop at volunteering on Monday nights. Janet joined Ken McCort as a Doggie Brigade evaluator six years ago after seeing there was a need.
She is also one of the two Pet Partner Instructors associated with Akron Children’s, teaching the course that is part of the process to become a Pet Partner. The human member of new teams must take the Pet Partner training course and then both the dog and human must pass an extensive evaluation to make sure they are competent to visit.
More than once, Janet and Hannah have been called into a room to distract a patient from a procedure, but one of the most memorable moments was when Hannah got a young boy to walk.
“We have two leashes when we have a child walk the dog because we can’t give up full control,” Janet said. “I asked him to take the end of the leash and he walked down the hallway with a big grin. The doctor said he had tried to get the child to walk for two weeks.”
Janet said the Doggie Brigade means a lot of things to everyone, whether it’s bringing a smile to a child or providing animal interaction with patients who might not own a pet at home.
“It’s also a social program that creates good friends with everyone working together to make the experience really rewarding,” she said.
Have you been touched by our Doggie Brigade? We’d love to hear your story, or you can comment on this post.