CHS Mobile Integrated Health Care (CHS MIHC) recently welcomed a new member to the family — Marley the canine therapy dog. The agency, which provides EMS and related healthcare to residents of southwest Monroe County and portions of northwest Livingston County, had been investigating options for adding a dog to its headquarters for quite some time. After soliciting employee input and considering various options, CHS adopted a current employee’s dog, welcoming Marley into the station during the busiest times (typically Monday through Friday during the day).
Marley, age 6, is a mixed breed rescue who completed an 8-week therapy dog training program through Therapy Dogs International (TDI®), a volunteer organization dedicated to regulating, testing and registration of therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers. With numerous guests entering the CHS headquarters throughout the day, it was important that she be properly trained to interact appropriately with both the public and CHS’ caregivers.
“The certification process was actually quite regimented,” said Gabrielle Hergert, Office Manager and Marley’s owner. “Now that she’s been formally trained, I’m looking forward to her spending time with our volunteers and employees on a daily basis.”
Given that Marley is a certified therapy dog, the agency can also bring her to community events such as blood pressure clinics.
CHS prides itself with a focus on employee well-being. Many studies show that having a therapy dog can provide improved mental health for the caregivers who are exposed to stressful situations as a result of their job. A therapy dog can reduce anxiety, increase camaraderie, encourages socialization and can provide comfort. In addition, there are other medical benefits that have been shown including reduced physical pain, release of calming endorphins, and acting as a distraction after an intense situation.