Making a Difference: Tails of Joy

YUMA, Ariz. – “It’s kind of like who saved who. I think Teddy saved my wife, and he did such a great job at it we said, well we can expand on it, he has tons on energy,” says Brian Kotso, Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC) Volunteer and Tails for Joy Dog Handler.

Kotso and his dog Teddy are changing lives by lighting up the faces of patients and staff here at YRMC and it’s all part of the hospitals ‘Tails of Joy’ program.

Brain explains, “’Tails of Joy’ is a volunteers program. It’s a team of dogs and dog handlers and we go around the hospital and just visit with different people like patients, visitors and employees. Teddy usually picks out the people he wants to visit with. People make his tail wag and he’s a hit.”

Throughout the years many dogs have come and gone through the program but this little guy is the newest addition.

“People are receptive to Teddy. They really like to visit with him because it breaks up their routine and gets their mind off of being where they’re at. Teddy is a distraction,” Brian says.

Once the handler and their dog have met all the Pet Partners requirements and completed the YRMC volunteer process, they will be oriented by a team. Dogs range from 100 plus pound breeds to smaller breeds like Teddy, the YRMC community couldn’t be happier on the impact these dogs are making.

Darin Fenger the Corporate Communications Specialist says, “It’s treatment going beyond medicine. So it’s wonderful that the little fury volunteers really bring a lot of joy to the patients. So we are not just here to help them feel better, but to have a great experience while they’re here at YRMC and being joyful with these cute little animals. People really light up not just the patients, but the employees as well.”

One patient couldn’t agree more.

“It’s good for people, because it seems like half the people in here have a dog. It’s good for everybody and for the dog too, they get all pampered up and washed and bathed,” says patient Smith.

Waging tails, smiling faces and the joy Teddy and other dogs in this program bring is all in the days work.

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