She Brings Power of Puppy Love to Hospital Patients

Article excerpt

Byline: Lyn J. Kearns Daily Herald Correspondent

The road to recovery after surgery or a serious illness can often be a lengthy and painful one. For some children, a pair of sparkling eyes, a wagging tail and a furry, wriggling body is just what the healing process needs.

Dorothy Bott of Mount Prospect has seen the joy the Puppy Program at Advocate Lutheran General Children's Hospital in Park Ridge can bring to patients young and old. She has been a volunteer with the program since its inception 25 years ago.

"It brightens everyone's day to watch the faces of the patients as they cuddle, play with, and pass around the puppies," she said. "For at least a few minutes they are able to think about something besides their illness."

Linda Bensing, a child life specialist, co-founder of the Puppy Program, and volunteer coordinator for the Child Life Program, said having puppies visit with patients was the vision of the late Dr. Seymour Metrick, who was Pediatrics division chairman at that time.

Bensing said the program's success over the past 25 years has certainly been worth the effort.

Bott doesn't have any pets of her own, so each week she drives to Skokie to pick up a couple of puppies to visit children, their families and staff members in the children's playroom at the hospital. She makes another trip to visit patients in the Adult Therapy Unit so they get to visit with the puppies, too.

"The Puppy Program is a way of bringing the outside, indoors," Bott said. "Some of the patients have never been that close to an animal before so sometimes it takes a while for them to feel comfortable, but it usually doesn't take long for them to bond with their playful, canine visitors."

Just knowing the puppies will be making a visit is enough to perk up some patients. …