Facility dog lends a paw at UofL Hospital

In honor of National Dog Day on Aug. 26, we’re spotlighting one of UofL Health–UofL Hospital’s furriest team members.

Travis, a blonde Labrador, is a facility dog that acts as an exercise partner to those involved in physical or occupational therapy while providing comfort and care to those who need it most.

“Travis really has a way of sensing the patient’s emotions,” said Cathy Gerrish, Travis’ facilitator and UofL Hospital physical therapist. “He knows when to stay back and when to get right in there and lay his head on a patient’s lap.”

Gerrish noted that there is a difference between a facility dog and a therapy dog.

“A facility dog actually comes into work every day and works,” said Gerrish. “A therapy dog comes with a volunteer dog handler to provide comfort to patients. This might occur for a couple of hours once a week.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Travis had to take a leave of absence from the hospital but has been back in the office since May 1.

While on the clock, Travis works to assist the therapists in performing exercises with patients to increase their strength, range of motion and function. Most of the time, the patients don’t even realize they are exercising because they are enjoying time with Travis.

When he’s not with the physical therapy team, Travis works with occupational therapy patients on fine hand motor skills, reaching and functional activities of daily living. Some of the exercises include laying pieces of food on him and picking them up, throwing balls for Travis to retrieve and simply having the patients brush him.

Travis’ biggest asset is his ability to comfort patients in pain. The Outpatient Rehabilitation Department treats a variety of patients, some of which are there for cancer rehab, just having surgery or general orthopedic dysfunctions. Cuddling with him can take their mind off the apprehension of therapy.

Even during these challenging times, Travis still finds ways to keep his patients motivated and relaxed, even while wearing a mask.

Want the ultimate rehab experience? Make an appointment to come see Cathy and Travis in the Outpatient Rehab Department at UofL Hospital by calling 502-562-3457.

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About Allison Dulin

Allison Dulin is the internal communications coordinator at UofL Health. She is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with a bachelor's in public relations. Allison is passionate about sharing patient and health provider stories to inspire and transform the community in which the health system resides.

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