Dogs are helping change lives at local hospital

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Findlay (13abc Action News) - There are two new four-legged volunteers at a Hancock county hospital. Blanchard Valley Hospital in Findlay has just started a pet therapy program.

Max and Jinx are now on duty. In fact, Tuesday was their first official day on the job. Between the two of them, they will be here at the hospital several times a week. Their main job is to make people happy.

A quick walk through the halls at the hospital makes it's quite clear the dogs are already a huge hit. Everyone we visited with loved the dogs, and the dogs certainly love everyone.

Robyn Miller owns Jinx, a three-year-old Morkie, "My fiancee is who encouraged me to get involved with this. We both wanted to do something to help others. I think Jinx knows it makes people happy for him to spend time with them. He seems to want to do that more. It's cute and it's amazing what a dog can do to help people."

Jinx only weighs four pounds, but he has a big heart, "He's very laid back, but he can also be quite playful. He's very friendly. As soon as he sees a stranger he wants to go right to them. He will get right in bed with them and they can pet him and talk with him. It's all very calming and it's proven that dogs can help your health through things like lowering your blood pressure."

Max is a six-year-old Goldendoodle, that's drawn to children. Helen Bibler is his owner and she helped start the program in Findlay after volunteering at a Lima hospital,"He truly loves kids. Even if we're not in a pediatric area, he will find them in a room, and pull me to that room."

Making it from one spot to the next in the hospital with the dogs is a slow process, and that's exactly why they're here. Heather Schalk is the Manager of Volunteer Services at the hospital,"Most of the time people are not here because they want to be. This program is a small bit of happiness, hope and healing that we can provide at the hospital."

The dogs only work in two-hour shifts, so they don't get too tired.
They have a big impact in that short time. From visits with patients to the hospital staff, Schalk says they are here for everyone,"I think my biggest surprise was seeing the nursing staff with the dogs. They all think the dogs are for the patients, but it's a great stress reliever for them as well."

Just seeing the dogs makes people smile.Bibler says this program is one more example of just how incredible the human-animal bond can be, "If someone is having a bad day, we'll take the dogs in and have them pet them and their stress goes away a little bit. It works for patients and staff."

Even if it's just for a brief moment, Bibler says this work is changing lives, "It just makes you feel good about yourself. You're doing something positive that helps others and helps everyone forget about everything negative going on in the world."

While Max and Jinx are the first two therapy dogs at Blanchard Valley, the hope is that there will soon be more therapy dogs on the team.
If you're interested in getting involved, we've posted a link.

It's not just hospitals where these dogs are helping people. Max and Jinx also spend time in local schools, They're part of a program that helps children become better readers by reading to the dogs.