Therapy Dogs Are Changing Patients Lives at Colorado Hospital

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When Beth Mathis woke up in the hospital unable to breathe after a lung hemorrhage and two strokes, life as she knew it would be forever changed.

Not knowing if she would walk again, she struggled to redefine her identity. A therapist suggested that she pet a dog in the therapy room, and that seemingly simple suggestion changed everything.

“For me, the act of scratching the dog and making the dog respond to me, I realized that at that moment I was who I used to be,” Beth said. “I was just different and had to figure out how to let that person out in another way.”

Now, Beth has Jack Daniels, her “Balance and Brace” dog, who is trained to assist her when she is standing and walking. A few times a week, the pair visits with other staff and patients at Craig Hospital.

Another stroke patient at the hospital, Sonja, loves getting visited by Jack.

Therapeutic recreation specialist Lori Womeldorff says a dogs ability to provide unconditional love helps them bond with so many patients. For one patient at Craig, jack is simply a reminder of home.

Jack has now helped Beth find her new purpose in life, helping others find a path to healing when their lives have been altered.

“To be able to show people what life looks like a little bit later is really important to me,” Beth said.

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