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Spotlight: Asante hospitals see a pawsitive comeback

Pet therapy dogs return to AACH and ARRMC to the delight of patients and staff.


LuLu gets a warm reception everywhere she goes.
Rosa Ramos and LuLu kept in touch through pictures during the COVID break.
Hope Roe is an unofficial staff member at Asante Rogue Regional.
Asante Board Member Steve Roe and Hope lift spirits.
Gentle and calm, Porter has the longest tenure at AACH.
Kay Schule and Porter are familiar faces in Ashland, including at the July 4 parade.
LuLu gets a warm reception everywhere she goes.

The use of therapy dogs at Asante was a common sight before the impact of COVID-19 forced a “paws” in this popular program.

The health benefits of therapy dogs are well known to reduce stress and anxiety and provide comfort to patients, visitors and employees. Studies have shown that their calming presence triggers the release of oxytocin (a.k.a. the “love hormone”) which unleashes an overall improved sense of well-being.

At recent recruitment and retention events, staff expressed a strong desire for its return. Fortunately, this tale has a happy ending. Therapy dogs are back at AACH and ARRMC. Thank you to our wonderful volunteers dedicated to this special and impactful program.


Rosa Ramos and her golden retriever LuLu drive from Montague, California, twice a week to visit Asante. When the pandemic forced the shutdown, Ramos thought hard about how she could continue to bring smiles to hospital staff.

She started taking funny photos of her and LuLu doing things like baking or mowing the lawn with the captions “Stay home, bake a cake” or “Mow the lawn, save lives.”

The photos, published in the AACH’s Connections newsletter, were a big hit and helped the staff stay connected with their furry coworker. Ramos has published books that she shares with patients and staff and gained support from sponsors to support their work.

Giving back is the motivation for Steve Roe and his sweet Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Hope.

“Dogs offer a natural conduit of conversation,” he says. Together they spread hope and bring a calming presence to what is often a pretty stressful environment.

Roe, who serves on the Asante Board of Directors, not only visits Asante hospitals but also the Oregon Youth Authority, hospice patients and pediatric units. Holding a special place in his heart are people needing support for behavioral and mental health. The gentle Hope helps them process emotions, verbalize fears, lower stress and anxiety, and, best of all, form an instant connection.

Almost 17 years ago, Kay Schule’s brother became ill and required an extended inpatient stay. Schule received permission to bring her dog, Brook, to visit. It would take an hour to get to the room because everyone stopped her and wanted to engage with the dog. The effect was almost magical. Soon Kay started serving at Asante with Porter, then a 2-year-old Labradoodle.

Therapy dogs are specially trained and certified to ensure they possess the appropriate behavior and temperament for this unique work. Schule trained Porter from a puppy to be a good therapy dog, sometimes putting him on her lap in the riding mower to get him used to loud noises.

Porter has visited AACH for more than 12 years. COVID halted those visitors for a time but he was finally able to come back in May. When Schule pulled into the hospital’s parking lot, Porter went crazy with excitement. He could not wait to get back to work!

Our volunteers share the goal of spreading joy and comfort. We are sure their four-legged heroes agree. Lulu, Hope and Porter have certainly wagged their way into our hearts.

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Tags: AACH, arrmc, covid-19, dogs, pet therapy
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