Therapy dogs visit Holston Valley Medical Center

PHOTO: Samantha Zarek

KINGSPORT, TN - Therapy dogs took over the hospital to help bring out the smiles of patients, their families, and hospital staff. For anyone at the hospital in need of a smile, these dogs were on the job.

"We are bringing our dogs to see the patients the families, the staff, whoever is here at the hospital and who needs a smile today," says chair of Pet Therapy Committee at Holston Valley Medical Center, K.C. Savage.

These special K-9 companions are certified through Therapy Dogs International. They go through an extensive training process including basic obedience and advanced training.

"These are the dogs that stay calm, love to go and see people, are excited to be in the hospital-- this is sort of their job, and they love doing it," says Savage.

Studies conducted through the America Heart Association have shown that therapy animals actually help reduce blood pressure and anxiety among hospital patients.

"Those dogs can help encourage activity, interaction, motivation for the patients, and so there isn't a time that goes by that we don't come and something wonderful happens," she says.

Jan Phibbs is a patient at the Hospital. She says the dogs definitely play a part in brightening her day.

"Oh, it's great! Takes a lot of the pain and stuff away just to have them love on you," she says.

The dog owners are all volunteers who have put their dogs through taining and dedicated their time to the cause. Phibbs says these visits really do make a difference.

"It does do something to your day...makes you feel so much better, and they're so sweet. Just coming to the hospital makes all the difference in the world, it does," she says.

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