Tootsie the Animal Assisted Therapy Dog

Please Note: The dog in the accompanying photograph is the subject of the story, but any persons shown are probably not those in the story.

Photograph of Tootsie dog

My dog's name is Tootsie and she doesn't fetch, can't run an obstacle course, but she does have a special gift. She helps patients forget about their pains.

One day, when we were visiting the physical therapy floor at Saint Vincent's Medical Center, one of the therapists encouraged us to visit a woman who had seen a cute gray poodle walking by. That's Tootsie.

The woman was in obvious pain. The physical therapist was there to help and so was Tootsie. In fact, just seeing Tootsie helped this woman feel better. She wanted to know everything about Tootsie, how I adopted Tootsie from a rescue organization, how I trained her for the Canine Good Citizen test. As we talked and as she petted Tootsie, the therapist continued his work. Before long her session was over, and the woman was no longer in pain.

The women then told me how much she appreciated having Tootsie with her to help take her mind off the physical therapy exercises. In fact, she liked Tootsie so much that she wanted to take her home!

After an experience like this, I know that Tootsie has a special gift. Her calm personality helps people who need special care. Just by being Tootsie, she comforts people. And isn't that why we do what we do.