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"I'm absolutely sold on the benefits of canine therapy in a hospital environment. I brightened up and forgot about the pain for a few brief moments when the dogs arrived for a visit to the 5th floor. I've been fortunate to work with military working dogs (MWD's), and they are great companions to have around. Yes, dogs are better than [some] chaplains! I'm doing great and should make 100% recovery in a few months."
  • John Murray, HMCS, U.S. Navy, reflecting on his visit with IDEN when he was a patient at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Dec. 2, 2010.
"In the patient lounge, while petting the [therapy] dog, IDEN, they started to talk to one another about where they were stationed and where they were from. These guys had never spoken to one another before then, but while looking at, and petting the dog, they opened up and started talking. The dogs have been a total hit with the parents and many of the patients! I think patients will get better faster. And that's why we're here!"
  • Rene S. Hernandez, Ph.D. and CDR, MSC, U.S. Navy, talking about the benefits of VMF dogs visiting patients and families at Naval Hospital Bethesda, Nov. 8, 2010.
"The nurses were thrilled with the dogs' visit, and they invited us to pop in to visit with all the wounded warriors in that area. I went with EDWIN to a few rooms. He is a yellow lab, golden retriever mix with the sweetest personality! EDWIN met Mark who was recently paralyzed and I don't think I have ever seen anyone so happy to see a dog! He had his wife move her chair and the trays to make room for the dog to come in. EDWIN walked over to the edge of the bed and started wagging his tail as he laid his muzzle on the man's torso. Mark wanted EDWIN to get up on the bed with him so it would be easier for him to pet the dog. EDWIN put his front feet up on the bed, then got close up to Mark and laid his head on Mark's chest and he even tried to sneak in a kiss. His handler said "Hey, no kissing on the first date!" Mark said, "that's ok" and let EDWIN lick his face. He talked about how he missed his dog at home and how the visit really made his day. It was a magical moment to witness."
  • Wanda Schmitt, Marine Mom, sharing her experience visiting her son's battalion mates at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center's Amputee Unit, Oct. 29, 2010.
"Even in a crowded room of providers, handlers, veterans and non-veterans, [therapy-dog] IDEN, intuitively sought out the veterans with the most pain and suffering. On two separate occasions she placed her head on their feet and their knees and looked soulfully into their eyes and allowed them to express warmth and loving touches toward her. There she remained during the entire sessions."
  • Mary Beth Williams, Ph.D., LCSW, CTS and noted trauma specialist in private practice in Warrenton, Va., Nov. 1, 2010.
"On October 24th, after feeding all the families in the hospital, we had extra food and brought it to Mercy Hall, which is the 'outpatient' barracks for the Wounded Warriors. Normally the Marines stop by, grab food and go back to their rooms. Occasionally, they'll sit quietly, watch TV and eat. Not on the day that [therapy dogs] EDWIN and IDEN were there. This time, they thanked us for the food, but went straight to pet the dog(s). The more Marines that walked into the room, the bigger the crowd—no one wanted to leave. Even the guys (and one young woman) that weren't actually petting one of the dogs, still stayed around to hang out and talk to one another. Again, this is a huge contrast to every other time we've been in Mercy Hall in the past two-three years."
  • Rene S. Hernandez, Ph.D. and CDR, MSC, U.S. Navy, describing her observation at Mercy Hall, Bethesda Naval Hospital, Oct. 26, 2010.
"I have had the pleasure of attending the Marine Moms' dinner at the naval hospital three times now, and the experience gets better each time we go. I have met some amazing military veterans, and their very supportive families. I cannot believe that I get to go there and help take their minds off their injuries, even if it's for a moment. HERSHEY is an oddity there, as they are used to seeing goldens, Shepherds and Labs, and when they see us coming, it is like, "WOW!" [Therapy dog] HERSHEY doesn't see the injuries, just a human being who wants to love on him and that is what I get to witness! It is a wonderful thing we get to do!" I LOVE my job!"
  • Julie Tremble, VMF staff member, reflecting on her opportunity to participate in animal-assisted activities with patients and families, Jan. 25, 2011.
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