Izzi is a 6 year old Great Dane (you met Izzi in a previous blog). This summer, three years after her recovery from paralysis due to spinal cord disease, Izzi continues to live a full and active life. Together with her human companion, Izzi went through the rigorous training to become a therapy dog. Izzi now works one shift a week at Craig Hospital where patients go for rehabilitation of spinal cord and traumatic brain injury.
I had the honor of shadowing Izzi as she made her rounds at Craig recently. Izzi greeted everyone with her signature smile, soulful expression, and gentle nature. Patients and nurses lit up as Izzi walked in their direction. People recognized Izzi and she seemed to recognize them in return.
Izzi stood, quiet and calm, her friendly eyes taking in each patient, as people reached out to touch her and to speak to her. A physical therapist was encouraging one patient to extend his arm. He reached out to Izzi, and the patient smiled as his arm extended and he was able to touch her velvety ears.
Patients asked for Izzi’s card. “The card” is an ID card, like a baseball card, that patients can collect from each dog who visits them. Patients who have been at the hospital for some time may collect many cards from all the dogs who visit there each week. You can see what Izzi’s card looks like to the right. A summary of her story is on the back of the card.
Everyone at Craig loves to see Izzi. They are inspired by her story of spinal cord damage, and her road to recovery. Patients comment that Izzi is like them, and they feel a special affinity for her.
If you are interested in getting your dog involved in therapy work, and your dog has a sweet gentle nature, here are 2 places in Denver that offer the specialized training needed for this work. Denver Pet Partners is the organization where Izzi and her human partner did their training.