We’re Back: A Paws to Heal Story

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It takes so many people to keep Paws & Think running smoothly. I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to see firsthand the impact our therapy teams have on others.I’m Sandi Kammerer, the Paws to Heal Program Coordinator. I wanted to tell you about our first visit back at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital this summer.

It was our first time back to see patients in almost 15 months! Our first patient was a 6-year-old boy who was a bit hesitant to say he wanted to see Shadow but I could tell he was interested. Shyly he said okay and you could just see the smile growing as Shadow got closer. After a few minutes he started telling stories and even laughing. Before we left, he wanted to get his picture with Shadow.

We also visited a teenager who was so kind and gentle with Shadow. He told us that he was a real animal lover. He showed us pictures of their family pups and told us all about them all the time he was stroking Shadow and watching him closely as if he could sit there for hours. He said that this visit “made the hospital not so bad and almost worth being there.” After the experiences he had that day, that was no small thing.

Then as we were leaving, one of the nurses came running down the hall to see if we could do one more visit for a young patient who had just been admitted. When we got to the room there were four nurses, maybe five, busy in there but they all moved out of the way to let us in and then stopped to watch as the patient’s face LIT up (yes, you could tell it lit up even with her little paw print covered face mask on).

While she was giving Shadow his carrot treats, one of the nurses said maybe she should share her treats with Shadow but since her treat was chocolate cake, our little patient exclaimed with grand gestures, that she would NEVER hurt a dog and then went on to tell us all the things she knew about taking care of dogs seeming to forget for a few minutes about being in the hospital.

I’m not sure who was the happiest: the patient who couldn’t wait for Shadow to get on the bed, giggling and laughing all the time… you know that wonderful tinkling laughter (an infectious laughter that brought a smile to everyone in the room) or the nurses who had obviously spent a lot of time with this little patient and were thrilled to see her joyful, or the patient’s mom or Shadow, who finally was getting to do what he loves to do again, or me because it was such a wonderful reminder that yes, this matters and yes, our therapy teams do make a difference.

When texting with Heather, the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital’s school teacher, after our visits, she said “I heard so many people buzzing about you guys being back!!”

It has been wonderful to see our therapy dogs doing what they do best.

~ Sandi on 7/7/2021

Therapy team: Shadow and Isabel

1st in-person patient visits since shutdown on March 10, 2020 due to COVID