Spreading ‘pawsitivity’: Linda Caudill, Hailey the therapy dog bring cheer to Clark Regional patients
Published 11:24 am Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Hailey ambles into the sun room and sniffs the visitor in her midst.
Satisfied with her investigation, the border collie-sheltie mix goes to the rug, rolls over on her back, legs up, and waits patiently for someone to scratch her tummy.
She doesn’t bark, she doesn’t roll back over, she doesn’t run around the room.
She just waits, lying on her back.
It’s the life of a therapy dog.
For the last four years Hailey and her owner Linda Caudill have made weekly visits to the long-term care unit at Clark Regional Medical Center. Some patients miss their own pets, she said. Some just want the comfort of a mellow, soft dog.
Caudill was inspired about therapy dogs some years ago while visiting her grandmother in a nursing home.
“I saw how those patients, who didn’t get anyone to come see them, their faces would light up when the dog would come,” she said.
Caudill knew then she wanted to have a therapy dog one day.
About four years ago, she met with a woman in Jett who trains service and therapy dogs. After finding a good-natured dog and completing necessary training, Caudill and Hailey were certified and their joint career began.
Every Friday, they visit the extended care patients at Clark Regional Medical Center. There are some patients who don’t want time with Hailey, but many do, whether they miss their own dog or just like the company, she said.
“I’ll be walking down the hall and somebody will say, ‘Hey girl. Bring that dog in here,’” she said. “They’ve been in there a long time and miss their animals.”
Some patients will respond to Hailey when they won’t respond to much else.
“I put her in the bed under (one woman’s) arm,” Caudill said. “She was in a coma but we saw her fingers move petting Hailey. Sometimes when they’re not real responsive, you get a little smile from them.
“Sometimes you can’t get in to talk to people and Hailey will open the door to conversation.”
Hailey has been to visit children and in the emergency room as well, she said.
“One of the benefits for Hailey is she loves to get out and meet people,” Caudill said. “For me, it’s like seeing that little child light up and the people that look forward to her coming. It’s beneficial to those people who are going through a rough time. It takes their mind off their troubles for a while. She takes my mind off my troubles.”
Their visits, she said, are just something they do.
“I don’t consider this a big thing,” she said. “I just like being with her.”
Caudill and Hailey are licensed through Pawsibilities Unleashed. For more information, visit www.pawsibilitiesunleashed.org.
Do you have a suggestion for a future volunteer of the week? Email Fred Petke at email@example.com.