• By Dana Sparks

In the Loop: A Dog’s Life … at Mayo Clinic

December 3, 2015


This article appeared November 19, 2015 In the Loop.

When Jessica Smidt conducts interviews, she looks for certain must-have traits in her candidates: reliability, predictability, friendliness and, perhaps most importantly, a "happy tail." That may sound like a strange job requirement, but for the coordinator of Mayo Clinic's Caring Canine Therapy Dog Program, it's a telltale (ahe
m) sign that a potential recruit has the right stuff. "You can teach a dog to obey commands, but you can't teach personality," Smidt says. And personality is important when your job is providing comfort, encouragement and support.Elfie300Sq

At Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus, 26 dogs — and their human handlers — have made the cut. Sharon Theimer and her two Australian Shepherds, Baxter and Elfie, are among the group of dedicated volunteers that make regular visits to inpatient and outpatient areas throughout Mayo Clinic. Theimer, who works in Mayo's Department of Public Affairs, says, "It's a joy seeing how patients, staff and visitors respond to the dogs." Usually it's with smiles and laughter, which can be tough to come by in the often stressful environment of a hospital. "A dog can change the whole mood of a place," she says. Read the rest of the story.