North Hawai‘i Community Hospital Calling Candidates for Best Friends Pet Therapy Program

Have you wondered if your dog would make a good Pet Therapy dog? North Hawaii Community Hospital’s (NHCH) Best Friends Pet Therapy program is looking for handler/dog teams to volunteer for a few hours once a week.

Pet Therapy

Dogs in the hospital’s Best Friends program make rounds in the hospital, visiting with patients, people in waiting rooms, and staff. They bring smiles and brighten the day for patients. Many patients miss their own dogs while staying in the hospital and begin talking and interacting when the dog enters their room, even if they have been withdrawn before. Pet therapy has been found to have a therapeutic effect on people as it can help relieve stress, lower blood pressure and raise spirits and. The hospital staff also looks forward to visiting with the therapy dogs, as they provide a few moments of unconditional love and a break during their busy day.

The dog/handler team will be initially evaluated by the hospital’s Best Friends Pet Therapy program directors according to the standards of Pet Partners (formerly Delta Society) and Therapy Dogs International. A temperament assessment will be conducted as well. If a team is accepted as a possible candidate for the Best Friends program, the handler will begin the volunteer application process. This will include a background check.

All breeds welcome. Dogs must be two years of age to qualify for the program and must be examined by the hospital’s veterinarian prior to being accepted. Characteristics of a therapy dog include:

  • A strong bond with its owner
  • Must be housetrained
  • Well-socialized and outgoing, must like people
  • A calm, stable personality that can handle the unexpected
  • Under handler control at all times, even when distractions occur
  • CANNOT jump up, bite, snap, paw or bark while at work

If you are interested in seeing if you and your dog qualify as a pet therapy team, please contact Jennifer Rabalais at 881-4825.


One Response

  1. I have a therapy dog and may be interested. Worked in two hospitals for about three years.

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