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Dogs audition for Scripps Health canine therapy program

Several dogs auditioned for Scripps Memorial Hospital on Thursday. Staff tested how they reacted to new sounds, smells and equipment.

SAN DIEGO — Dogs do so much for the soul. Their healing affects have been well documented. Even just a few minutes can lift spirits. So, Scripps Health is looking to get its Canine Therapy Program back to pre-pandemic levels.

Several dogs auditioned Thursday. Scripps Memorial Hospital staff tested how they reacted to new sounds, smells and equipment.

When the program was forced to stop during the pandemic, a lot of people felt like something was missing.

"Patients felt it, but also our staff was really impacted by it," Jill Sandman said, who is the Manager of Volunteer Services.

Their four-legged healthcare team gets credit for being calming and improving blood pressure - as well as lifting spirits and encouraging communication and movement.

"Any anxiety a patient may have, puppy love is just invaluable," Sandman added.

The volunteers do believe their dogs have some kind of healing power. "She is very friendly, loves being pet, so it's just a win win," James Ball said.

Jeff Duben and his Golden Doodle also want to volunteer their time. "The patient will benefit from her personality," he said.

If selected for the Canine Therapy Program, the dogs, and their humans will bring joy to around ten patients in a one hour shift.

In 2019 there were 60+ dogs. Right now there are approximately 30. If you’d like to volunteer, head to www.scripps.org 

WATCH RELATED: Therapy dogs from Helen Woodward Animal Center make a visit to the ICU healthcare workers 

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