Man’s Best Mend: Furry Friends Provide Therapy for BSA Patients

BSA’s Rehabilitation department is full of talented, experienced physical and occupational therapists. But Wednesday seems to be a special day in the unit. It’s when they bring in the big dogs…literally. 

Meet Cactus Jack and Bubbles La Belle, or Jack and Bell as many know them. They may walk on four paws and slobber for a treat occasionally, but they are sure to brighten your day.

“Every time we’ve come on to the floor patients say ‘Oh will you please come into my room, I’ve been missing my dog.’ It brings a smile to their face. They love on the dogs and enjoy being with them,” says Denise Spencer, Belle’s owner.

Denise and her husband, Scott Spencer have been bringing their therapy dogs to BSA for more than five years. Their first stop is always the waiting rooms, then up to the sixth floor to see rehabilitation patients.

“The dogs bring a calmness to patients. It reduces their heart rate, and it provides a motivational factor, I think because they want to reach out and touch the dog,” explains Crystal Baird, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant at BSA.

“I felt relieved. I felt like at least I could pet a dog, it wasn’t mine, but it made me feel at ease and a little better,” says BSA Patient Hazel Miller.

Along with emotional therapy, Jack and Belle help with rehabilitation by letting patients brush them, throw their ball and even play tug of war. 

“It makes more sense to a patient, it’s more functional than setting a cone in front of them, or setting out rocks or pegs,” says Crystal.

And patients aren’t the only ones who enjoy it.

“We love doing this; it’s a win, win, win. The patient loves to pet dog, the dog loves to be pet and we love to share our dog with somebody. It’s really a good thing,” says Scott Spencer, Jack’s owner.

The love doesn’t stop at BSA. Scott and Denise also take Jack and Belle to colleges, elementary schools and nursing homes.  

“I just love to go along with him. I tell everyone he’s the rock star, I’m just the groupie that follows along with him,” says Scott.  

Jack and Belle are proof the path to our hearts are paved with paw prints.  

To learn more about BSA Rehabilitation, click here.