Dori Neumeier was sitting in the lounge area of the Therapy Floor when the elevators opened and out walked Timbre the therapy dog and his owner Tom Trabue. Dori felt all of her stress from the day melt away as Timbre came over and allowed her to pet him.
Dori had been hospitalized for over a week with congestive heart failure. She had been feeling weak, tired, and homesick. Little did Tom and Timbre know, Dori actually recently had to rehome her own beloved dogs to friends’ homes because she was unable to care for them because of her ongoing health issues.
“When I saw Timbre I just had to pet him! I was so in need of petting a pup,” says Dori.
Dori and Tom chatted and Tom told her about the therapy dog program at Boone Hospital Center. Timbre and Tom are just one of several teams that visit the hospital through the program. All Boone Hospital therapy dogs and their owners are certified and are a part of Therapy Dogs International (TDI). TDI is a volunteer organization that tests and registers dogs for the purpose of visiting hospitals and other care institutions. The dogs visit Boone Hospital patients and sometimes also come to staff events like Nurse’s week or employee appreciation.
Timbre and Dori continued to visit and then Timbre did a lap on the floor greeting patients and staff members. Timbre and Tom came by Dori’s room to say goodbye and so Timbre could give Dori an extra snuggle before they left.
“It gave me just the oxytocin I needed. It totally lifted my spirits,” says Dori.
Tom and his wife Kim have been volunteering with the therapy dog program for a few years now. They first just took Timbre to get some professional training when he was young and he did so well that his instructor recommended they look into him becoming a therapy dog.
“We love to help people so we decided to do it,” says Tom.
In addition to visiting Boone Hospital, Timbre also visits family court, local schools, and area libraries through their Reading to Rover programs.
“I’m semi-retired, and so this is what I love doing. I love to see people’s faces light up and see their smiles when they see Timbre,” says Tom.
Boone Health Therapy Dog program coordinator Patsy Winn says the program has many benefits for both patients and staff.
“It can reduce stress and anxiety. It can provide companionship, especially to patients who are missing their own furry friends, and it can improve health both mentally and physically,” says Patsy.
By Madison Loethen