Hospital Dog Gets The Cutest Name Tag To Prove He's Officially Staff
“It’s such a blessing to be around a guy like Shiloh, he’s pretty amazing”
Walk into any hospital, and you might find a therapy dog visiting with a patient. But who comforts the staff? That’s where Shiloh steps in.
The 3-year-old golden retriever has an official name tag and a uniform just like the rest of the hospital staff — but his job, through the program Buckeye Paws, is to support the doctors and nurses working in the high-trauma areas of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Shiloh’s mom Mary Justice, an administrator at the hospital, cofounded the program with associate chief nursing officer Beth Steinberg. She got the idea when both of their young dogs were in training to become therapy animals.
“While we were in class, I started to talk to Beth about how I’ve done therapy dogs for [hospital] patients, and for people in nursing homes and taking them to see children in schools,” Justice told The Dodo. “And while that’s really rewarding, I think there’s this whole population of workers right where we are that experience a lot of stress.”
Shiloh, who spends about three days a week at the hospital with his mom, was born to help others. “Shiloh has a strong ability to read people,” Justice said. “He has an ability to look at the situation he’s going into and he searches out certain people. The person will tell me, ‘He knows I’ve had a bad day today.’ And he does.”
The Buckeye Paws program launched in early March but was quickly shuttered when COVID cases started rising. The staff missed the dogs, especially during such a difficult time. But after consulting with the dean of veterinary medicine, they were able to bring the dogs back to the hospital.
They now take precautions to keep everyone safe, such as wiping the dogs down, wiping paws and making sure hands are washed before interacting with the dog. Staff can request a personal appointment with Shiloh or the other dogs in the program for a little one-on-one TLC.
“When we brought them back, it was like a sigh of relief from our units,” Justice said. “We’ve been active ever since. And we pay particular attention to our staff who are dealing with a majority of COVID patients."
The dogs have been a bright spot in a dark time for so many medical professionals: “I had an interaction with one young lady over the weekend, she ran up to Shiloh and said, ‘I need him.’ And started crying and held onto him,” Justice said. “The impact is just immeasurable.”
When Shiloh is at work, he takes his job very seriously, but once the name tag and special harness come off he’s able to be a regular dog again, running around, playing with his toys and having fun. The next day, he wakes up and does it all over again.
“It’s such a blessing to be around a guy like Shiloh," Justice said. "He’s pretty amazing.”