A Day in the Life of Colin the Therapy Dog

3 min read  |  August 25, 2017  | 

August 26th is National Dog Day, so in celebration of all of our canine companions we would like to honor one special pup who makes everyone smile here at the University of Miami Health System – Colin the Therapy Dog. For a little less than a year he has been visiting with cancer patients, making their day just a little bit brighter as they receive treatment.

Colin’s trainer, Alexandra Beverly, who is a nurse and University of Miami alumna, and her family work with the organization Canine Companions for Independence training dogs to become service dogs.  That is how she met Colin, who ultimately stayed with the family instead of being assigned to another home as a companion dog. In addition to being a therapy dog, he also helps at UPup – an organization that teaches students how to be trainers of service dogs.

“When cancer patients interact with a dog with pet therapy, they have less anxiety and are less aware of their pain,” explains Dr. Cristina Pozo-Kaderman, Director of Clinical Operations, Cancer Support Services.

Several times a week, Beverly or one of the students from UPup brings Colin to The Lennar Foundation Medical Center, where he is a valued member of the team. He even has his own name badge!

Here is what one of those days looks like, according to Colin:

Today was one of my favorite days of the week; I got to visit all of my friends at Lennar.  I made sure that Alexandra brushed my teeth – that dog food can give you some really bad breath! When I first got to Lennar, I went straight up to the fourth floor to visit everyone waiting to get chemotherapy.

After saying hi to all my co-workers – they love me – I went to work.  I love my job – making everyone feel just a little less nervous about their treatment. Plus, I get petted the whole time I’m there! Today, though, there was a man who looked like he wasn’t feeling well at all.  I could tell that he really needed some Colin Time, but something was holding him back.  I know that sometimes cancer patients can be a little unsure about me, so I took the first step and introduced myself.

When I put my nose in someone’s hand, they just can’t resist me … it’s a gift.  So that is what I did, and before you could say “peanut butter,” the patient had a huge smile on his face! I had to say goodbye, though, because it was time to go home.

I said goodbye to everyone and did Alexandra’s favorite trick – she says “Go Canes” and I bark.  I have her trained so well! Yeah … today was an awesome day. I think it’s time for a nap.

To learn more about our pet therapy program at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, call (305) 243-5966.

Tags: cancer, canine companions for independence, chemotherapy, colin, L, national dog day, the Lennar Foundation Medical Center, therapy dogs, upup

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