Los Angeles,
06:00 AM

Animal Planet: Talk About Puppy Power

Animal Planet recently featured Cedars-Sinai volunteer and employee Maureen Chin, MSN, RN, CPN, associate nursing director of Pediatric Services and her dog Marley, highlighting how therapy dogs can help decrease a patient’s pain and simultaneously brighten their spirits.

Chin and Marley, an Irish Wolfhound and Poodle mix, volunteer their time and services with the Pets Offering Ongoing Care & Healing (POOCH) volunteer program at Cedars-Sinai.

POOCH program dogs and their owners provide a wide range of services throughout the medical center, offering heartwarming and supportive experiences to patients, visitors and staff members. Marley became a volunteer three years ago and is one of 35 dogs enrolled in the POOCH program.

“When Maureen and Marley joined our team, we were so excited to have a skilled nurse who understands the value of pet therapy and its effects on patients,” said Jessica Maceda, program administrator of Volunteer Services. “In the past, we received a request for visit for a patient who is end of life. Maureen and Marley stepped up and were able to provide this type of comfort for patient and their family which is a valuable gift.”

Chin rescued Marley when he was seven months old and recalls the moment they first met.

“The moment Marley came out of the gate where we were sitting to meet us, he jumped up on me and started kissing me,” said Chin. “He was so giving; I knew that this had to be my dog.”

Each week, Marley brings his jolly demeanor to patients at Cedars-Sinai, offering a welcome change for many people facing serious illnesses and conditions.

“Having a surprise of a dog coming to visit a child in the hospital when they’re not expecting it, changes the whole mood in the room,” said Chin. “They’re not thinking about why they are here; they’re more thinking about in the moment of here I am with this dog.”

Chin also believes Marley has another special gift—being able to tailor his energy to whomever he is meeting.

“He knows how to give love to everyone in the room,” said Chin.

As a nurse, Chin understands the value this love can bring to patients, going far beyond a smile and quick visit.

“There is actually research to show that having pet therapy has reduced pain medication,” said Chin. “I’ve spoken to nurses after their patient had a visit with a pet, and they say it was the first time the patient smiled in two days.”

Watch the clip on the Animal Planet’s Twitter page.

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai blog: The Health Benefits of Pet Ownership