BATON ROUGE – Even though he walks on four legs, 6-year-old Finn knows his way around the Baton Rouge General hallways. It’s practically the golden retriever’s second home.
“We like it. It keeps us out of the pool halls,” said Frank Ewing, Finn’s owner.
Twice a week, the two volunteers visit the hospital. Their job isn’t hard thanks to Finn. The two are giving staff a needed dose of stress release.
“It’s just a good feeling. I’m a dog lover. I love pets. It’s just a happy feeling. It brings happiness during these hard times,” BRG nurse Leslie Taylor said.
Finn was trained in Georgia for situations like this. Ewing has been taking him to the hospital for the past two years so he can calm down worried parents, or make sick patients feel better. This year, though, his therapy is needed more than ever.
“When we enter each unit I can see the stress relief overcome people. The nurses and physicians are obviously very stressed, and so for the few minutes he was at the nurse station there was relief,” Ewing said.
Finn’s visits create a small break from the relentless work that’s been going on at the hospital during the pandemic.
“He brings a sense of comfort and relaxation during these stressful times,” Taylor said.
Ewing says Finn enjoys his important work. Every pet that he gets, and there’s plenty of them, he’s making others smile.
The two are able to visit some patients who ask for them, but they don’t go inside any COVID-19 units. Ewing also brings Finn to Our Lady of the Lake and Healing Place Church to volunteer as a greeter during the week.