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Swedish American celebrates 8th anniversary of dog therapy program

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Swedish American Hospital took time on Thursday to celebrate its furry volunteers, hosting an eighth birthday bash for its Caring Canines dog therapy program.

Staff members, patients, and families gathered to enjoy cupcakes and meet several of the teams.

The program utilizes volunteers to bring trained dogs into the hospital to visit with patients. 

Volunteers say just the act of petting a dog can lower a patient’s blood pressure, while offering moments of relief during what can be a very stressful time.

“You see a person just relax when they see the dog,” said Claudia Aschbrenner, a Caring Canine Therapy Dog Assistant. “Often, our staff will love to take a moment with them and get down on the floor. We call it fur therapy. [They get to] pet the dog, get a little fur therapy, and a few moments of relaxation.

Becoming a Caring Canine isn’t easy: the dogs undergo rigorous training and testing before they’re allowed to tour the hospital.

Caring Canines will hold auditions in November to find new volunteers to work with its dogs. 

For information on how to join the program, email Claudia Aschbrenner

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