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Spotlight: The Healing Pups Program

Spotlight: The Healing Pups Program

Halloween is a popular holiday here at BMC, especially with our therapy dogs! These extremely popular staff members are also known as Healing Pups, and together, they comprise some of the most well-known – and much-loved – faces on campus. This unique therapy program was first established in 2012 by the Office of Patient Advocacy, which strives to provide systems for coordinating, investigating, and resolving patient and family grievances. Currently there are nine dogs who visit campus regularly, providing in-hospital comfort to patients and families going through trauma and illness. They also provide a furry, warm respite from the stresses of the day to all members of the BMC staff, who are always ready to give their four-legged colleagues a pat on the back, or a heartfelt hug. 

“It’s always such a pleasure to see the reaction of patients, visitors, and staff when the dogs enter a room”, says Sheryl Katzanek, Director of Patient Advocacy and handler to Healing Pups dog, Rylie, a black Labrador Retriever. “For a few brief moments, people forget the tensions and challenges of their environment, and simply enjoy the company of ‘man’s best friend.’”

All nine crew members have undergone a thorough training and evaluation to become certified therapy dogs. Two of the team members were specially trained through the National Education for Assistance Dog Services (NEADS) - an organization that provides independence to people who are deaf or have a disability through the use of canine assistance.

During a hospital stay, patients may be feeling down due to missing their own dogs at home, or perhaps need an extra push of encouragement to get out of bed the morning after surgery or while recovering from illness. Others simply thrive off of the dogs’ comforting presence.  

 “The dogs humble us,” says Katzanek. ”They perform little miracles that no human can.”

Meet the Healing Pups team members, or contact Sheryl Katzanek at the Office of Patient Advocacy at 617.414.4970 to learn more.