Meet Clive, ECU Health Medical Center‘s resident canine.
“Currently, he’s working two days a week with us,” said recreational therapist and dog handler Kasey Shue. “Some mornings when we go through the hospital doors, he’s just like, on a mission. I have to be like, ‘Clive, wait, hold on, buddy. You’re like, ready to roll this morning’. So I think he knows what he’s here to do.”
It’s an assignment he’s well prepared to tackle.
“A service dog is specifically trained to do certain tasks for somebody with a disability,” said Clive’s owner and outpatient rehab supervisor Tanya Bowen. “So a therapy dog is basically to provide comfort and they have to be very friendly and outgoing because there’s a lot of people that want to pet them and touch them. They have to be calm. They have to like the interaction, the social interaction. So he’s kind of like a little combination of both.”
Clive’s skill set benefits patients in a number of ways, whether that’s assisting with physical needs or providing emotional support.
“We’ll partner up with a physical therapist or an occupational therapist and we’ll work on walking him if they’re working on mobility improvement,” Shue said. “We’ll work on throwing a ball if they need some hand strengthener. We’ll work on them being able to pick up a very small treat and hand it to him if they have fine motor limitations. We really try to incorporate him into whatever functional skills they are trying to learn to make their life easier when they get home. On the other side, many times we have patients that are depressed or anxious. They don’t like being in the hospital and he just provides that comfort.”
And his services are in demand at the bedside and beyond.
“He actually wears a vest that says, I’m friendly, please ask to pet me,” Shue said. “We absolutely encourage that because he is therapy for our patients, but he’s also therapy for the staff, the families.”
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