IU Health North Hospital

She’s a VIP offering lots of TLC

We are IU Health

December 12, 2018

There’s a Very Important Pooch (VIP) bringing smiles to the faces of patients and staffers at IU Health Saxony. Meet Quigley.

She barely gets inside the hospital door before this brown-haired beauty is creating a stir. The waiting area is filled with patients at IU Health Saxony Hospital and every head turns. Then there are the excited gasps.

“What a wonderful surprise.” “Oh, you’re so soft and cuddly.” “I just want to take you home.”

Quigley with patient

For Quigley, an 11-year-old Labradoodle, the affection is . . . well, just another day at the office. For the past five years, the 42-pound pooch has made her rounds at IU Health North and Riley Hospital for Children and recently started visiting at IU Health Saxony.

“I’ve seen your business card. It’s so good to meet you,” said Michele Cabellon, a staff physician. “You are so hot looking and have the sweetest disposition. Seeing you just makes my day,” said nurse Monica Hammerly.

Quigley with staff

With her pink lips and long lashes Quigley looks like a movie star just out of the make up chair, but her owners Peter and Nancy Canning say she’s fairly low maintenance. They brush her curly coat often and carry a bottle of hand sanitizer to share with her admirers.

“Sometimes when she’s really fluffy people think she weighs more than she does,” said Nancy Canning. She loves to have her ears rubbed and she is quick to flash those big welcoming eyes.

What most people don’t know is that Quigley completed extensive training to become a therapy dog – registered by Pet Partners. For more than four decades, the organization has been connecting people with the healing power of animals. More than 10,000 volunteers throughout the country have been registered with Pet Partners – working in trauma centers, hospitals and nursing homes. In order to become a registered therapy dog, Quigley had to show competence in following 22 commands, demonstrate that she was reliable, and would not pick things up from the floor without permission. The Cannings spent about 100 hours in training – taking Quigley to shopping malls and pet stores to test her skills.

Quigley visiting patient

The couple learned firsthand the benefits of pet therapy when their daughter was hospitalized with a chronic illness. Patients have shown signs of decreased blood pressure and heart rates and an increase to pain tolerance when interacting with pet therapy animals.

Peter Canning is retired from Elanco, a company focused on animal health. That professional interest combined with the couple’s personal experience made animal therapy a viable pursuit. And Quigley was up for the job.

Not only is she a registered therapy dog, she has been a patient. Earlier this year when she was hospitalized to have a tumor removed, her leg was shaved so an IV could be administered. When Quigley later visited Riley Hospital, the young patients asked about the shaved patch and perked up when they learned Quigley had an IV. It was something they could relate to.

She is at Saxony for only about 20 minutes and has already made more than a dozen new friends. She

Quigley walking through hospital

makes her hospital rounds two days a week.

“I had a heart attack two weeks ago. This is my second visit to the hospital and I miss my dogs at home so this is great,” said Nancy Buntin.

“My dogs will be smelling her on me but I think they’ll understand that she was a welcome guest,” said patient Jerry Curry. As he talks he pulls up photos on his phone of his English Lab and Florida Kerr to share with the Cannings. In ER Michael Davis asks the Cannings questions about house training. When Quigley makes her way to mammography, staff members offer to bring in a bed so she can stay all day.

But after 90 minutes, she’s ready to go home where she is a “typical” dog. She chases squirrels, catches a Frisbee, and enjoys naps. She’s also a big sister to a nine-month-old chocolate Labradoodle.

“She’s so well-behaved and doesn’t look a bit menacing,” said Nancy Canning. “We hope that she can help train her brother so we can have a second therapy dog in the hospitals.”

-- By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
Reach Banes via email tfender1@iuhealth.org.

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