Vickie and her Golden Retriever, Bert, conduct weekly visits at Ogden Regional Medical Center. After a visit in the ICU with a young man who had had open heart surgery, the nurse contacted Vickie to tell her how thrilled the boy was with Bert. He told his family how Bert had watched over him as he was being stuck with needles. Bert sat in a chair next to the bed and when the nurse came in to check the patient, Bert leaned toward the boy so his head was about five inches above the boy’s stomach, but not touching the boy or the bed, and watched the nurse intently – never taking his eyes off her as she worked to get some blood for a test. To know that Bert was “watching over him” gave the young man something positive to focus on during a serious event in his life.
On another occasion, medical staff had asked Vickie and Bert to visit a patient that had some paralysis. The physical therapists were trying to get her to move her fingers. Not only did the patient caress Bert, but she signed “I love you” to Bert. Physical therapists are often impressed with how well the patients respond to Bert and the other TAU dogs that visit at their hospital. The presence of the animal encourages the patient to reach out and pet them and demonstrate greater mobility than they do with exercise alone.