Therapy dogs delight Sharp Grossmont patients

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Patients may have recognized Brutus and Milagra as their frequent therapy dog visitors at the clinics and wards in the Sharp Grossmont Hospital complex. But, then again—maybe not. 

The photogenic canine duo were garbed up Egyptian style, as “King Mutt” and “Cleo-pet-ra.” And pet therapy colleagues similarly in disguise joined the two for the Sharp Grossmont Hospital Therapy Pet Halloween Parade during morning hours on Oct. 25.

Patients may have recognized Brutus and Milagra as their frequent therapy dog visitors at the clinics and wards in the Sharp Grossmont Hospital complex. But, then again—maybe not. 

The photogenic canine duo were garbed up Egyptian style, as “King Mutt” and “Cleo-pet-ra.” And pet therapy colleagues similarly in disguise joined the two for the Sharp Grossmont Hospital Therapy Pet Halloween Parade during morning hours on Oct. 25.

Wonder Woman (aka Sharon) wheeled around superhero Shih Tzus Batman and Superman (usually known as Jagger and Dylan). Companion human Batman had along his shaggy, black sidekick dog Robin. The eight-year-old Rottweiler was costumed not as Casper but as “Hope the Friendly Ghost.” Not to be outdone, Grand Champion BJ the bearded collie had her own festive Halloween necklace, head knot and Batman cape.

This was all treats, no tricks, for the patients. The parade’s first stop was the Cancer Center. Virginia Wallace was there for her first chemotherapy session. “I feel fine,” Wallace ventured. 

Wallace has an eight-year-old Golden Labrador at home in Lakeside, and she was happy to have the parade of dressed-up canine visitors to break up the three-hour-long infusion session. Corrie Thomas, one of Wallace’s nurses, said of her patient, “She’s doing great.”

Khan In, at the center for her fourth treatment, said that she “liked the costumes,” as the dogs walked to her treatment recliner to give her attention and affection. Khan In travels from City Heights to Sharp Grossmont for cancer treatment care.

Barbara Bradbury had a surprise for the visitor dogs. Bradbury was costumed up in hair curlers, old house coat and slippers. The bedtime sign around Bradbury’s neck read, “Good night, big boy.” Bradbury ostensibly was done up as a star from reality TV show “Real Housewives of La Mesa.” Bradbury has been in treatment for blood cancer for four years, and she is on a schedule involving staggered five-hour sessions for chemotherapy and infection prevention infusions. Bradbury said that each year for the Halloween parade, she dressed in costume for the visiting dogs and human companions. “I feel fine,” Bradbury continued. “They take good care of us here.”

The next stop for the paraders was the Rehabilitation Center, mainly to patients recovering from injuries. And hospital administration staffers staged as the final stop a quick walk-through during a lengthy morning meeting of hospital staff leaders.

Volunteer Susanne E. of El Cajon has been participating in the therapy pet visits since 1989, with a series of dogs. BJ the bearded collie is Susanne’s fourth therapy dog. Susanne explained that BJ has been in the program since early 2015. Susanne further described the desirability of training purebred dogs like BJ to the fullest of their possible capabilities. Bearded collies are herding dogs, known to be a very intelligent breed and deeply affectionate and friendly.

The therapy dogs make regular rounds visiting Sharp Grossmont patients. The annual Halloween Parade is a special treat, though, for everyone involved.