Arlington Heights-based Northwest Community Hospital is looking for more furry friends, and their owners, to join its animal-assisted therapy program that helps cheer up patients as they recover.
The hospital is looking for 10 to 12 new dog-owner teams to join the program, said Patrick Reilly, communications specialist for NCH. Northwest Community started its animal-assisted therapy program in 2007 and now has 70 dog-handler teams.
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Therapy dogs can be any breed, but must be in good health, obedient, enjoy people and get along with other dogs.
"A loving dog can assist in reducing a patient's stress, pain, anxiety and loneliness. Interaction between patients and pets can raise a person's spirits and improve their physical well-being by lowering blood pressure and accelerating recovery times," according to the hospital.
The dogs visit patients at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, affiliated medical officials and the Arlington Heights Senior Center.
The deadline to apply is Aug. 15. Qualifying dogs will go through a two-hour temperament and obedience evaluation by professional dog trainers on Saturday, Aug. 23 at a cost of $30 to the owner.
Teams that pass will attend a three-day training course at the hospital that includes mock patient visits, as well as a briefing on hospital policies and infection control practices. The training -- held October 4, 5 and 11 -- costs $125. Sponsorships are available to help support the teams.
Handlers must be the dog's owner and at least 18 years old.
"The animals provide a dimension of care that is unlike any other therapy," said Kathy King, manager of Animal-Assisted Therapy at NCH. "Patients simply love the dogs. Our teams have made more than 68,000 patient visits in nearly seven years."
Download an application and get more details at www.nch.org/animalassist, or call 847.618.7963.