New therapy dogs for adult patients at two Louisville hospitals

Juno, a 3-year-old golden retriever, will provide support at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, while Pepper, a 2-year-old Labrador/golden retriever cross, will work at Norton Hospital.

Thanks to the generosity of donor Edie Nixon, the Norton Healthcare Foundation has funded the expansion of a pet therapy program for adult patients and staff at Norton Healthcare. 

Juno, a 3-year-old golden retriever, will provide support at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, while Pepper, a 2-year-old Labrador/golden retriever cross, will work at Norton Hospital. An additional dog will join Norton Healthcare in the future.

“I’ve always been a dog lover and know how much comfort they can bring during difficult times,” Nixon said. “Dogs have an amazing power in helping people communicate their feelings. They can be better listeners than people.”

Research shows that employing full-time therapy dogs has many benefits for patients. Sometimes they simply provide emotional comfort by lying at the foot of a patient’s hospital bed or sitting by the patient’s side before a procedure. The dogs also help with physical recovery by encouraging patients to get out of bed, sit up or walk.

Norton Healthcare Foundation

As the philanthropic arm of Norton Healthcare’s not-for-profit adult services, the Norton Healthcare Foundation raises funds each year support initiatives at Norton Audubon Hospital, Norton Brownsboro Hospital, Norton Hospital and Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital.

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“Being in a hospital is stressful, and for many people they are missing a beloved pet at home,” said Heather Stohr, manager of child and family life for Norton Healthcare. “A therapy dog can put a light back in a patient’s eyes. The dogs also reduce anxiety and take the patient’s mind off pain, which helps them recover faster.”

Studies also show that therapy dogs help employees cope with the high stress that comes with working in a hospital.

Hand-picked to become therapy dogs when they were just puppies, Juno and Pepper have completed extensive training through Paws With Purpose, in conjunction with the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women. Each dog will be on the clock with its handler 30 hours a week.

Juno and Pepper join already employed therapy dogs:

  • Henry, Norton Audubon Hospital
  • Holly, Norton Children’s Hospital
  • Rosa, Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital (pediatric patients)
  • Doc, Norton Children’s Medical Center

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