First, the bad news. Tawny went to Torrance Memorial Medical Center two times in order to get approved as a visitation dog. She conducted herself wonderfully each time, following all the commands given to her while exhibiting a kind and gentle behavior; everything TMMC is looking for in a visitation dog. The only problem is every time Tawny visited a patient she would shy away after being petted. While she would perform the “sit” and “down” commands, she would soon turn and face me.
Pat, the volunteer who coordinates the Dog Visitation Program, and I made the following observations:
1. Tawny only turned away when she was in a patient’s room, but never if she met one in the hallway.
2. She always enjoyed visiting the waiting room and being introduced to the family members of patients in the hospital.
3. She also liked visiting clinical and administrative staff members of TMMC.
Our conclusion was Tawny didn’t like being in patient rooms because the patients were hooked up to IVs and she probably didn’t like the smells associated with the room and/or the patient.
Okay, now for the good news. Tawny has been asked to continue her visitations because of how everyone responded to her and how positive her reactions were to anyone who wasn’t connected to an IV. She will now continue as a visitation dog and be free to roam the hallways and the waiting rooms, and also drop in and checkout the administrative offices, since most everyone at TMMC loves dogs and enjoys seeing them. Besides, the administrative staff always has “treats” to hand out.