By David Fleet
Goodrich — Roxanne Clark who worked for more than 30 years as an hospital administrator in the oncology field, recognized the need for therapy dogs daily in her profession.
“Whenever we had a dog in the cancer unit, everything was fine,” said Clark, an Elba Township resident.
“The patients were better, the families and the grumpy doctors were all better. So after I retired from the hospital it was therapy dogs. That’s what I was going to do.”
On Tuesday night, Clark along with staff from Mid-Michigan Therapy Dogs gathered with new handlers and their 32 dogs at the Goodrich United Methodist Church, 8071 S. State Road. The event included, Goodrich Girl Scouts 77509 and 13401 who read a variety of books to the dogs who were completing their 12 weeks of therapy dog training with a graduation set for May 10 at the church gymnasium. The soon-to-be therapy dogs represented a variety of breeds and backgrounds.
“Our mission is to train therapy dogs so they are ready to accept responsibilities for visits in hospitals, health care settings, schools, scouts, we’re asked to do many different tasks.”
Clark said they have been training at the GUMC since 2008 while Mid-Michigan Therapy Dogs or “Angles with Paws,” has been around since 2005. Currently there are more than 200 dogs and certified handlers in the field working.
“We keep the cost of the training reasonable with the goal to get as many dogs out into the area of need as we can,” she said. “We learned to be partners, our ques and to work in a gym. The dog has to pay attention to no one else but me.”
Clark said, for example if there is a call out request for a therapy dog if there is a death in a school of a teacher or students.
“We were called out to Oxford High School following the shootings in November 2021,” she said. “We took several dogs and had multiple visits over a year into the school for the kids and staff. Our job is to make sure our team is well trained to handle any distress event.”
By David Fleet