When Maggie Mae walks into our hospital people notice. You can tell she is special because of the thoughtful look in her eyes, the way she engages people without saying a word, and the fact that so many people want to spend time with her. Maggie Mae makes a difference with every interaction. She is a unique asset to Children’s Hospital, and she works only for hugs and dog treats. You see, Maggie Mae is a dog, who brings an unconditional love and passion to her work.
Maggie Mae is featured in an online video entitled Puppy Love, produced by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and posted on JSOnline. It’s a wonderful story that really showcases the benefits of pet therapy.
Maggie, her handler Diane and 11 other teams of dogs and volunteers have made a big difference in the lives of families, children and staff here. Children’s Hospital’s Angel on a Leash program has brought a new dimension of visiting to our patients and families. Our program, which is run through Volunteer Services, has 12 handling teams. Each team has a scheduled visit within specific areas of the hospital or direct to patient rooms. The teams, one handler and one dog, have gone through either Delta Society or Therapy Dogs International training, and an extensive orientation to our facility. The dogs provide positive physical contact and nurturing, and contribute to increased self-esteem and acceptance in our patients.
Patient safety is the key driver to assure we continue to provide a safe and healthy environment when the dogs visit. I know that is critically important. What is just as important is the impact these dogs have on our patients. They bring an acceptance that goes beyond explanation, they encourage without words, they understand with a wag of their tail. Most of all, they make a difference.
Angel on a Leash is a national program of the Westminster Kennel Club.
–Maggie Butterfield, director of Patient Amenities and Family Services