Pet Visitation Therapy

Pet visitation

Allan Bass and his dog Maddie, a miniature labradoodle, visit patients in The Vanderbilt Clinic on a regular basis.

Pet Visitation

Pet Visitation offers patient-pet interaction by approved canine visitors. Approved dogs regularly visit the clinic to create an upbeat environment for patients and their families.

Visiting with animals can help people feel less lonely and less depressed. It has been shown that many become more active and responsive both during and after their visit. Stroking a dog or cat can reduce a person's blood pressure.

A dog visit can offer entertainment as well as welcome distraction from pain and infirmity. People often talk to the dogs, and share their thoughts, feelings and memories with them. Animal visits provide patients with an event to be excited about.

The pet makes it easier for two strangers to talk. It gives people a common interest and provides a focus for conversation. Many people in hospitals or group homes have had to give up pet ownership, and they miss the casual acceptance a pet gives them. A dog pays little attention to age or physical ability, and these loving animals accept people as they are. The benefits continue even after the visit. The visit leaves behind memories not only of the visit but also of past experiences. It offers something for people to share.

"I really enjoy visiting with patients at the cancer clinic. I meet so many courageous, interesting people. When I had a stroke and triple bypass 15 years ago and retired from computer programming, I found I had a lot of time to fill. I tried many volunteer activities, but when my wife and I got our dog, Maddie, a miniature labradoodle, we began pet therapy. I knew we had found our calling." ~Alan

Have Your Pet Provide Therapy to Our Patients

All dogs must be Delta certified. Training is offered through the local branch Therapy ARC, a Middle Tennessee Delta Society Affiliate.

If you and your pet are interested in volunteering for the Pet Visitation program, you will need to learn about the process to become a volunteer. Please contact Kim Hunter, the Cancer Center's program coordinator, at 615-343-7776 or learn more about Vanderbilt Volunteer Services.

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