Sept. 5 was a special day for Bayfront Health Punta Gorda volunteer Nancy Dreyer and her pet Chiweenie (part Chihuahua and part Daschshund) My Tai. This day marked My Tai’s 100th visit to the hospital to visit patients and their families as a member of the hospital’s Pawsitive Healing Pet Therapy Program.
The Pawsitive Healing Pet Therapy Program was created to serve to enhance the quality of a patient’s stay at Bayfront Health by improving their health and rate of healing via the positive physiological effect of human-animal interaction. Members of the program volunteer their time and are specially trained by a certifying or governing organization.
“I was first introduced to My Tai on July 5, 2016, when I saw her on the Lee County Animal Services website, immediately realizing she was the pet for me,” says Dreyer, Bayfront Health Punta Gorda volunteer since 2000. “I went the next day and determined that — if she was still there — I was going home having adopted this adorable 11.09 pound Dachshund mix, and her name would be My Tai, after my niece’s dog Tai.”
Dreyer quickly realized there was something special about My Tai. “All she wanted to do was to love and to please in return for love, care and mutual admiration,” said Dreyer. “For more than 30 years I dreamed of having a licensed, registered therapy dog so that I could officially share their love, smiles and joy with others who could benefit from this kind of caring attention.”
In January 2017, Dreyer completed the application to become members of the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, a national organization with the objective of form(ing) a network of caring individuals and their special dogs (who) are willing to share smiles and joy with people, young and old alike. By March 2017, My Tai and Dreyer completed all forms, training and testing and were officially registered members of ATD.
In July 2018, Dreyer and My Tai were approached by hospital staff to join a new program that would offer pet therapy as an alternative to pain management, and today, they make two visits per week to the hospital.
“Offering love, smiles, joy and companionship — and a few dog kisses — to those in need of some relief from their current situation which may be causing them pain makes it all worth it,” said Dreyer. “The best comments we hear are ‘you made my day” or ‘thank you for my doggie fix’. That’s when we know we are accomplishing our goal.”
To learn more about the volunteer program at Bayfront Health, visit www.bayfrontcharlotte.com/volunteer-opportunities.