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Hug a Hound Pet Therapy Program and Howdy Hounds Canine Greeter Program

Hug a Hound Program

The sight of a friendly, four legged canine friend walking through the halls at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H) makes one look twice. Heads turn, smiles emerge, a muffled chuckle is heard when seeing the wagging tail and red bandana of one of our certified pet therapy dogs, ready to go to work. Whether providing TLC at the bedside of a patient, gleefully greeting all who enter at one of our entrances, or providing a little comic relief to the staff, Hug A Hound pet therapy dogs are just what the doctor ordered!

Why is Pet Therapy needed?

Pet therapy dogs provide love and affection. Research has shown that dogs can help reduce stress, make social connections, invite conversation or provide the profound healing of touch. Want to relieve a little stress? Try petting one of our Hug A Hounds.

How is Pet Therapy done?

Pet therapy dogs visit patients in their rooms in certain areas of the hospital. We also have a "Howdy Hounds" Canine Greeter program at the 4th floor entrance.

Who are the therapy dogs?

They are all specially trained and registered as pet therapy dogs. Our volunteers are selected and screened based on their attentiveness, good health, affection, and sensitivity to people.

Pet Therapy Team

Pet Therapy Team

Pet Therapy Team

Pet Therapy Team

Pet Therapy Team

Pet Therapy Team

How to Participate

Pet therapy team member Participation in the Hug A Hound Pet Therapy Program and the Howdy Hounds Canine Greeter Program starts with registering with Pet Partners.

Visit Pet Partners

Once you have registered with Pet Partners, please enroll as a D-H Volunteer. Volunteer Services coordinates and schedules all Pet Therapy Dog teams at our facility.

Become a Volunteer

D-H strives to provide a welcoming and safe environment for all patients, staff, volunteers and visitors on its premises. Volunteers are asked to follow the immunization and background screenings required by Human Resources. In addition, D-H provides ongoing training and support to volunteers to assure their success in contributing to our patient and family focused mission.

If you have any questions about the Hug a Hound or Howdy Hounds Canine Greeter programs, please contact Dartmouth-Hitchcock Volunteer Services.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do pet therapy dogs do?

Volunteer pet therapy dogs visit D-H patients in numerous settings and greet arriving or departing patients, families and staff at designated entrances. They offer affection, cheer, stress relief or solace to all ages. They are well mannered, of gentle disposition and enjoy interacting with people.

How can I tell if my dog would be a good pet therapy dog?

Volunteer pet therapy dogs are well-trained, obedient, reliable and friendly. They are socialized to interact with both people and other animals without conflict or anxiety. They demonstrate a warmth of spirit and enthusiasm around people. Many pet therapy dogs have completed dog obedience courses and/or successfully completed a Canine Good Citizen evaluation. Pet therapy dogs may be of any breed (purebred) or a mixed-breed 'mutt'.

What is the difference between pet therapy dogs and service dogs?

The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. A service animal is not a pet. (Taken from U.S. Dept. of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section).

Volunteer pet therapy dogs do not "provide assistance" for a disability, but instead offer love, affection and stress relief with their wagging tails and trusting eyes.

Can I do pet therapy dog work at D-H if I am also an employee?

Yes you can! Many D-H employees are also D-H volunteers. Volunteer hours are separate from worked hours and can easily be scheduled as such.

What type of patients will my pet therapy dog and I visit?

D-H has a number of inpatient units where volunteer pet therapy dogs visit, including pediatrics, adult medical care and psychiatry. In addition, we have our Howdy Hounds program, where dogs greet people at designated D-H entrances. We will meet with you and your dog to understand your experiences as a volunteer pet therapy team and where and how you might best contribute at D-H.

Do you accept other pet therapy credentials other than Pet Partners?

At this time, D-H has determined that Pet Partners offers a level of training and evaluation that best prepares volunteer pet therapy teams to be successful at D-H and assure our patients, visitors and staff a safe and enjoyable pet therapy experience. We will continue to evaluate programs as part of our ongoing effort to maintain the highest of standards in pet therapy.

What does my dog need to wear when we visit D-H?

Therapy Dog D-H provides each volunteer pet therapy team with volunteer IDs. Dogs wear a D-H issued red Hug-a-Hound Pet-Therapy bandana and their human-counterparts are asked to wear a D-H issued red volunteer shirt, jacket or Hug-a-Hound Pet Therapy apron.

For more information