Dozer, a 7-year-old Samoyed, made it about 10 feet before being mauled by staff at St. John Medical Center.
Nearly everyone who passed by, from doctors to kitchen workers, stopped to pet the 68-pound marshmallow of a dog. Some took selfies or just fawned over his fluffy coat and chilled demeanor.
“The softness, the friendliness, he’s like a little huggable bear,” said Christina Wyley, a sonographer at the hospital.
Dozer is one of about 11 dogs that have become quite popular in the year since the hospital implemented a therapy animal program.
The dogs and their owners visit the hospital three times a week to make rounds through the various departments.
The program was created with the idea that it would benefit patients, which it has. There also has been an unintended, but welcomed, result from the program: The hospital employees love when the dogs visit.
Natalie Delaloye, a registered nurse, went out of her way Friday afternoon to spend some time with Dozer.
“I’ve been torn eight different ways today,” Delaloye said. “With this craziness, it’s nice to get a couple of minutes to love on a fluffy dog.”
The visits from therapy dogs are a component of an overall effort to make the work environment for nurses a little less stressful.
Another example is a room designed for staff to spend quiet time, relaxing or reflecting.
The dog program is valuable to the workforce, said Pam Kiser, vice president/chief nurse executive at St. John.
“The whole intent is that you need to leave this place here when you go home,” she said. “It’s very stressful; it’s hard work. Patients are sicker than they ever have been, and there’s a lot of tragedy in this place.
“There’s a lot of emotional and physical stress in this place, so we want to do whatever we can to support the staff and take a moment out of a very…