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Therapy dog Feodora 

Feodora and her jobs

How Feodora went from being a cuddly toy to being a therapy dog

Feo is a real family member, she "takes care" of everyone. If you were out with her and a child was crying or screaming, Feo was dying to go there to "take care of". In short, the idea came up, with her one therapy dog training to do, and so we have been working as a team for a year (and just successfully recertified, ESAAT qualification). Since I am a surgeon, she is allowed to accompany office hours patients if they wish, but more and more patients who are still bed-bound   request a dog visit. Feo is allowed (after a corresponding explanation of how to behave) in compliance with all hygiene regulations on the hospital bed in order to be able to be stroked better.

Feo is a valued volunteer at the hospital and even has one of her own image film.

Therapiehund Feodora.jpg
Anker 2

Woman and dog: The therapy dog team

That's how it turned out

Anker 1

At least since the pandemic, people in Germany have apparently become more open to the topic of animal-assisted companionship. I was very surprised when a patient of mine asked if her friend could visit her with her visiting dog in the room on the surgical ward. I asked our hospital hygiene officer and was very surprised at his positive response! The dog in question was not anti-allergenic, so that a coat had to be worn in the hospital as a condition. For information: a visiting dog also undergoes recognized training, but is used less therapeutically than an additionally trained therapy dog.

The positive reaction of our hygiene officer gave me the last trigger I needed to set off for therapy dog training  . While school dogs or reading dogs are enjoying increasing popularity and are already being used frequently, working with patients in hospitals is still rather rare. There are numerousstudies, mostly from the USA, who demonstrate the positive effect of a therapy dog even in the emergency area.

After 1 year of using Feo in the clinic, I can say that I have only had positive experiences. Feo herself finds it exciting to come with me to the clinic, and when I get the appropriate bag and her therapy dog coat to set off, she can hardly contain her enthusiasm. In the clinic, she pays close attention to the people she meets in the corridor, and if it is signaled that someone is interested, she is allowed to get to know many new people (after a brief introduction to the greeting ritual in the case of new acquaintances). I was particularly surprised and enthusiastic about the joy of the employees. Feo usually elicits a smile and is indeed an "icebreaker". I have never spoken so much to all the employees in the hallway and also  learned more about them and their concerns.

Feo is used in the surgical department on request. Patients and visitors to the surgical ward are sometimes still surprised and are happy to inquire about her and her tasks. Because Feo and I are a therapy support dog team, Feo is not allowed to work without me and my supervision. So I'm definitely spending more time with the individual patients, and this activity has brought a new perspective to the doctor-patient relationship.

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