Pet Therapy Program at Sky Ridge Medical Center
Under the leadership of Carolyn Shovlowsky and her partner Rockie (right), the Sky Ride Pet Therapy began in 2008 and is entirely operated by volunteers. Therapy dogs and their handlers visit with staff, patients and their loved ones each week.
As a puppy, Auggie was big, rambunctious and quite defiant. So at 6 months he was sent for a stint in prison, really! When he returned to us four weeks later, he was happy, playfully sweet and had a calm demeanor; all because he finally learned what was expected of him. Now he is a joy to spend time with and we try to take him everywhere with us. He is so full of love! Love for people and his ball and treats. I also think he can read my mind with those big brown eyes!
Breck is a petite golden retriever who career changed from Guide Dogs for the Blind at 15 months of age due to being too “soft” for the program. She's a natural schmoozer and has always been a therapy dog in her heart. She started working in the Ronald McDonald Room at Sky Ridge at 4 months old as part of her guide dog training so she grew up in the hospital. She believes her job is to make everyone smile and of course she wants everyone to pet her. She's a perky, happy and affectionate girl who loves to run, play, fetch and carry toys when she's off duty. She and Oscar are cousins and best buddies.
Golden Retriever Chloe began her career in pet therapy in Dec 2015. She has a sweet, gentle nature; her demeanor is cheerful and unassuming. Chloe enjoys people of all ages, old and young alike; she has never met a stranger. Chloe loves to be petted and will seek it out. She enjoys being talked to, and using her big brown eyes, she will "share a conversation" with you. At home her favorite pastime is to romp with her brother, a Spaniel-mix.
Cody is a five-year-old Aussiedoodle who captures the hearts of all who meet him. He is full of energy, but knows when he walks through the doors at Sky Ridge that he has an important job to do. He particularly loves meeting with patients, family and staff in the waiting rooms, ICU and ER. They often mistake him for a little bear cub! Cody has a cousin, Willie, who also volunteers at Sky Ridge.
Oscar is a golden-lab cross who career changed from Guide Dogs for the Blind at 15 months of age due to immature cataracts. As his puppy raiser, I was able to bring him back home to become my second therapy dog partner. Due to his service dog status, Oscar has been working since he was a tiny puppy. He is mellow, gentle and intuitive, a people magnet who has the ability to bring an air of calm wherever he goes. Napping is his specialty although now that he is a "normal" dog, he is learning to enjoy previously forbidden games such as fetch.
Spencer is a black-and-white English Springer Spaniel following in the paw steps of his great-aunt, Jamie, who has been visiting at Sky Ridge since 2009. Jamie's father and Spencer's great-grandfather was Diamond Jim, who won the Westminster in 2007 and was a nationally recognized Alzheimer's Association therapy dog. Spencer has worked very hard from the time he was a small puppy to learn good manners. He loves people and is always ready to give them a paw. Spencer is a sweet boy who is very affectionate and loves to play fetch, chew his bones, and play with Jamie. He loves to be pet and get hugs from anyone he visits.
Willie is a six-year-old Aussiedoodle who has been part of the therapy program since October 2013. Willie is very friendly, has boundless energy and loves life. Patients remark about how mellow he is, but outside his Sky Ridge duties, he is anything but mellow. He loves chasing squirrels or his toys, but especially loves taunting his canine cousin Sadie. He enjoys camping, hiking and riding in the car.