Therapy dogs, 'Darby' and 'Dillon' are eager to start spreading cheer through the halls of Castle Rock Adventist Hospital in Castle Rock.

It’s the third day away from the comforts of home and the idea of being poked, prodded and asked to rate your pain on a scale of one to 10 sounds exhausting. With no set discharge date, there may be little to smile about.

What if the heaviness of the hospital room could be lightened up by a visit from a four-legged friend?

IMG_8891In hopes of addressing the uneasy feelings felt by many staying in the hospital, Castle Rock Adventist is striving to give patients a reason to smile. Starting yesterday, the soft steps of paws will be heard throughout the halls as they stop to see patients.

Welcomed by a small crowd of community members,  the hospital staff added three new therapy dogs to the team. After a  short reception, in a brightly colored vest, one of the dogs was walked upstairs to cheer up his first new friend.

“We have a therapy dog going in right now for a visit to someone in ICU for the first time,” added hospital chaplain, Dave Martinez. Having been requested by the family, it was hoped that the companionship of the dog would help give some comfort to the situation.

And while he recognizes that it’s his job is to console patients during their stay, he similarly understands the deep connection that can be made between people and animals. “Sometimes they (the dogs) can deliver joy that a human might not be able to,” he said.

Because providing a calming experience to patients, no matter the therapy or tactic used, serves to give them a positive boost and distract them from the pain.

Meme Martin, Program Director for “Angel Paws,” likewise understands the immense biological benefits given by therapy dogs during the healing process. Her goal is to eventually see the program expand from weekly to daily by adding more ‘doggy days.’

“We’re looking for more volunteers to help out,” Martin remarked. “The goal is to eventually have dogs here every day of the week.”