|Volunteer Pet Therapy Program|
One Genesys Parkway
Grand Blanc, MI 48439
Unlike some, Dodger gets excited at the mere prospect of going to work. That shouldn't come as a surprise considering he and his colleagues, GiGi and Ramsey, are naturally qualified for their job – spreading doggy love.
The Genesys volunteer program consisting of 530 volunteers, now includes 19 furry, fun-loving canines. Since last October, volunteers with the program have been helping to include animal interaction into the healing process. With numerous dogs visiting patients, their family members, and employees on a weekly basis, the pet therapy program at Genesys is breaking new ground in health care.
“These dogs are no ordinary dogs,” says Mary Jane Grunden, director of Volunteer Services. “They go through months of training before ever entering the hospital. This testing includes certification through organizations such as Mid-Michigan Therapy Dogs and Therapy Dog International, then, it is followed up with a personal interview for
acceptance into the Genesys pet therapy program.”
"It takes a very special dog to be a therapy dog," Grunden adds. “The interview gives me a chance to see how excitable a dog may be, how they will react to new situations, and how the owner handles the animal.”
Every pair, dog and owner, has numerous stories of how they have touched a patient's life. From the smiles and laughter, to the tears of joy and comfort an animal can bring – the reward and personal gratification received from being part of a pet therapy program is endless.
“This program not only does a world of good for the patients, it’s good for the dog as well,” notes Bob Zielinski, handler to Harley. “Harley is 12 years old, and this program gets him out of the house and exercised regularly. He is my best friend, and I want him around as long as possible.” Studies suggest that interaction with dogs contribute to good health by lowering blood pressure, elevating mood, and even improving social interaction. And when these dogs walk through the front door, they mean business. “As soon as they put on their vests, they know it’s time to work,” says Dionanda Burnash, handler to Aramis and Dartagnan – two larger-than-life Great Danes enrolled in the program.
Everyday Genesys welcomes these dogs and their human partners into the hospital, bringing smiles to patients and unconditional love. Genesys salutes these four-legged volunteers, their handlers and the work they do to make everyone smile.
If you would like more information on the Genesys pet therapy program, or know of a Genesys patient in need of some “doggy love,” please call Volunteer Services at (810) 606-5100.