Dog brings happiness to patients, staff
By Rick Cousins
Published May 3, 2005
GALVESTON Ă˘â‚¬â€ť The deep, dark eyes that gaze out at you from the official UTMB photo badge are so warm and compelling that you want to hug its owner Ă˘â‚¬â€ť who, the tag helpfully informs you, is Tilly from geriatrics.
And people do just that all day long.
And a hug is more than OK, since Tilly is the official house dog of the University of Texas Medical BranchĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s ACE unit.
The Acute Elder Care ward is on the top floor of John Sealy Hospital. This is where Tilly reports for her eight-hour shift each weekday.
Signs caution visitors not to leave doors open since Tilly is on her rounds greeting staff, patients and their families.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“I love Tilly,Ă˘â‚¬Âť said Anna DeZengotita, a patient who is almost ready to leave the ACE unit and return to an assisted-living care center in Texas City.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“She comes to see me most every day. SheĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s so pretty. I feel better having her around.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Come here, baby,Ă˘â‚¬Âť she calls to Tilly, who moves over to her for a dog treat.
DeZengotitaĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s son heartily endorses TillyĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s ministry. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Tilly is just gorgeous,Ă˘â‚¬Âť Felix DeZengotita said. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“It puts a big smile on MomĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s face and elevates her spirits. But she does hate to see her waddle out.Ă˘â‚¬Âť
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“WaddleĂ˘â‚¬Âť is right, since residents and staff have slightly overfed the plump therapy pooch.
Recently she entered the staff area carrying a dinner roll larger than her head, and her failing for cake is legendary.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Tilly is better than a prescription,Ă˘â‚¬Âť said Cleo Douglas, a registered nurse on the unit. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“SheĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s just what the doctor ordered. She gives us spiritual, emotional and holistic help Ă˘â‚¬â€ť and asks for nothing but love and food in return.Ă˘â‚¬Âť
The staff seems to enjoy Tilly as much as do the patients.
Cheryl Lehman, the clinical nurse specialist nurse for ACE, tells the story of doctors, nurses, students, and staff traveling up from other floors of the large complex just to take a Tilly break.
Another common occurrence concerns student doctors who are led by professors through geriatrics as part of their teaching rotation. The professors continue down the hall only to recognize that their charges have been left behind.
The young doctors have stopped and dropped to the floor to socialize with ACEĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s most popular attraction.
Lovejoy Chantilly is a 5-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who works weekdays at Sealy. She lives evenings and weekends with a local family. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“SheĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s waiting for me to pick her up each morning,Ă˘â‚¬Âť said Lehman. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“I get kisses, hugs, and then she letĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s me know sheĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s ready to go to work.Ă˘â‚¬Âť
Tilly holds a Good Citizen certificate from AKC and a Therapy Dog registration from Therapy Dogs International. The dog was trained and donated by local volunteers.