Furry Friends program provides emotional lift

a patient with a Furry Friends therapy dog

There’s an old saying that goes, “If it wasn’t for dogs, some people would never go for a walk.” That may be a stretch, but there’s no denying the positive impact four-legged creatures can make on human health and well-being. At University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the power of pets can be felt firsthand through the Furry Friends program, a partnership of the hospital’s volunteer services and rehabilitation therapies departments.

Since 2003, the program has given hospitalized patients the simple joy of spending time with a pet—one from home (dogs or cats are permitted, after prior approval) or a canine trained and certified for hospital visits. Currently there are seven volunteers who accompany the dogs on visits to assigned hospital units. The animals are a healthy distraction and great stress reliever for patients and families, not to mention what they do for hospital staff. After all, a pet can make any setting seem more like home.

Click the thumbnails below to see photos from a recent Furry Friends visit.