Pets help relax patients at Longview Hospital

Pets help relax patients at Longview Hospital

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - When cooped up in a hospital for an extended stay, people miss the outside world, especially their pets, if they have them.

That’s why a Longview Hospital has instigated Therapets. Well-trained dogs are brought in to help patients get their mind off things. And this time of year, Santa just had to come along.

Rehab is a pain; literally. It’s an arduous process, and, along with a hospital stay, it just makes people antsy. Christus Good Shepherd’s Administrative Director of rehab Brandi Morris says they’ve been bringing in the pets for a few months to help with that.

“We have had really good success with it. We had one dog, Beau, as you see here, and we’ve added on another one recently named Zelda,” Morris said.

And Zelda was working her magic with Hazel Peterson who:

“Went and fell off of that bar stool,” Peterson admitted.

And now she has some rehab ahead of her.

Sandra Shipp is in a similar boat, and she has a dog at home.

“I really miss him. I miss my dog more than I do my house,” Shipp laughed.

“So we’ve really seen an increase in our patients being involved with their therapy. It has a lot of medical effects, such as decreasing blood pressure, releasing endorphins; it creates an automatic relaxation response, which actually decreases the need for medication for some patients,” Morris revealed.

Not sure if that applies to Santa visits, but it couldn’t hurt.

“Did you tell Santa what you wanted?” I asked Hazel Peterson.

“I don’t do that anymore. I don’t get anything from Santa anymore,” she laughed.

Then, as if Santa could read her mind, he pulled a stuffed horse out of his bag.

“Here’s something to keep you company in here,” Santa said.

“I think it’s great. I think it really helps people to heal. I really do. Of course, I’m a dog person. I think dogs are pretty special,” Shipp stated.

And, as it turns out Hazel is actually a horse person. She has one.

“Mr. Leo Troubles is his name,” Hazel said.

“Do you have a little farm or something or is he in your apartment?” I asked her.

“No, I’ve got a farm,” Hazel laughed.

Well I’m pretty sure they’ll stick with dogs, and occasionally Santa of course. Horses and reindeer in the rehab gym might have the opposite effect on the patients.

The Therapets visit the rehab gym twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Santa only goes about once a year.

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