Blessing of the Dogs: Celebrating the Healing Contributions of Pet Therapy

Man with a dogOn or around Oct. 4, people worldwide will celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi with a blessing of the animals. This remembrance commemorates the life of St. Francis, the Catholic Church’s Patron Saint of Animals. Over the years, it has become a popular day for pets to be blessed.

The Medical University of South Carolina will hold their 4th Annual Blessing of the Therapy Dogs on the campus of the University Hospital this year. All year long, therapy dogs work tirelessly in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, schools and disaster sites comforting and calming strangers.

Certified therapy dogs not only reduce stress, depression and blood pressure, but they also improve self-esteem, increase physical mobility, provide comfort and eradicate loneliness. It only makes sense that we — their human components — gather together to recognize all that they do.

There are more than 80 pet therapy teams working on and off MUSC’S campus. A therapy dog will spend two-hour weekly shifts in the Main, Women’s and Children’s Hospital, physical/occupational rehabilitation facilities and infusion clinics. Not only are they excellent companions for the patients and their families, but they also provide invaluable health benefits for the medical staff and personnel as well.

Last year, these teams participated in more than 6,000 bedside visits, equaling thousands of hours of tail-wagging happiness.

This year, MUSC extends this invitation to therapy dog teams in and around the Charleston area. Bring your certified therapy dog to the MUSC Horseshoe at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. Chaplain Services will bless the pet therapy dogs, and you will hear stories of their heroic work from patients and medical staff. Enjoy a festive, fun, carnival atmosphere with tasty dog treats, games and vendors as you meet other handlers who share the same passion for pawsome volunteer work.

For additional information about the MUSC Blessing of the Dogs event, contact the MUSC Pet Therapy Coordinator Cathy C. Bennett at 843-792-7360 or [email protected]. No registration required.

By  Cathy Bennett