A fond farewell to our furry friend
Volunteering can connect people from diverse backgrounds and life experiences, expanding our views of the world. It can connect us with one another in ways we never knew possible. Here at Lutheran, we have countless volunteers who contribute to the care of our patients and make a significant impact on the lives of our patients, visitors, and our caregivers.
One of these volunteers is a woman named Monika, who has been part of our pet therapy program since 2014 and is a member of the Volunteer Executive Committee. Monika began volunteering with her previous therapy dog, a Standard Poodle named Sam, who was particularly adept with patients in the Senior Behavioral Unit and at West Pines.
In 2020, she adopted Norman, an 83-pound Old English Sheepdog. Norman began visiting Lutheran after the hospital was reopened to visitors post-COVID restrictions.
"As soon as I met him, I knew he would make a fantastic addition to the pet therapy program,” said Monika.
She and Norman are assigned to specific floors when visiting patients, but Norman also visits staff and visitors throughout the hospital and is always up for brightening their day.
“There is nothing like seeing nurses running down the hall whenever they see us so they can say hello to him,” said Monika. “We always swing by the gift shop and visit with folks in the waiting area for outpatient procedures. We also make a stop in the Lab where he is a fan favorite.”
People love spending time with Norman and always note his size. He is a great ambassador for large, sweet dogs as he is unusually tall for his breed Monika says his two best features are his eyes and luxurious hair, and his patience and gentle manner put everyone he encounters at ease.
Unfortunately, due to a recent health issue, Norman is retiring from the pet therapy program. While he has recovered, it took a lot of wind out of his sails and at 12 years of age he is experiencing mobility issues in his hips, and the hospital floors are especially challenging for him to get up from.
“I know he will miss visiting with patients, visitors and staff,” said Monika. “People always tell me Norman made their day and I can’t help but feel grateful that he brings such joy and smiles to everyone he encounters. Whenever we can lighten someone’s cares by making them smile, I know we have done our job. I want to thank everyone for always being so wonderful to Norman and ever so generous with treats and ear rubs. The staff at Lutheran have always extended such kindness to both me and my dogs and I have come to regard many as friends over the years.”
Thank you for your service, Norman! You will be missed.