Pet Therapy Program at Sky Ridge Medical Center
Under the leadership of Carolyn Shovlowsky and her partner Rockie (right), Sky Ridge has had an Animal-Assisted therapy program since the summer of 2008. Sky Ridge Medical Center is one of the largest animal-assisted therapy program in the metro area with 15 dogs and 11 handlers, visiting more than 150 patients, families and employees each week.
All of our handlers are volunteers and enjoy helping patients through their love of canines. The teams are evaluated and registered by Pet Partners, and due to its high quality, need to be re-evaluated every two years. Enjoy browsing through the pet profiles below to become more familiar with our K-9 Team!
Armand was born in 2012 and raised in the Guide Dog for the Blind program, but decided to come back home to his puppy raisers. When Armand was 10-months-old, he had a bowel obstruction that landed him in the ICU. Since then, he seems to understand hospitals and the power of healing. Armand is a big boy at 75 pounds, but his big head can lay ever so gently in someone's hand to be petted. He is learning to play Frisbee in his spare time, something a guide dog isn’t allowed to do!
Bosley is a Standard Poodle who was rescued in an unusual manner – he was returned to his breeder by his original owners who claimed he was incorrigible and could never become a good citizen. Despite Bosley’s inauspicious childhood, he quickly learned all the necessary skills to become a therapy dog and started his career in January 2014. He loves snuggling into his working vest and visiting with patients, family and staff.
Breck is a petite golden retriever who career changed from Guide Dogs for the Blind at 15 months of age due to being too “soft” for the program. She’s a natural schmoozer and has always been a therapy dog in her heart. She started working in the Ronald McDonald Room at Sky Ridge at 4 months old as part of her guide dog training so she grew up in the hospital. She believes her job is to make everyone smile and of course she wants everyone to pet her. She’s a perky, happy and affectionate girl who loves to run, play, fetch and carry toys when she’s off duty. She and Oscar are cousins and best buddies.
Darby is a seven-year-old golden retriever and has been a therapy dog since 2009. Darby was rescued when he was a year old and has had a rough start to his life as he was abused and abandoned. He was left with a number of orthopedic issues, but his warm and enthusiastic spirit has helped him overcome many obstacles. He loves his work at the hospitals and will soon begin work at the medical school providing warm fuzzies to student doctors during high stress periods. His hobbies include swimming, hiking, and snuggling.
Dillon has been a therapy dog since 2007 and is a very loving nine-year-old golden retriever. He was adopted from Arizona when he was 8 months old. Dillon has participated in the library reading program and will soon start providing comfort to medical students during exam periods. Dillon enjoys hiking, chasing squirrels, fetching our morning paper and playing with his little brother, Darby. He won a gold medal at the Dog Olympics in the newspaper fetch event and has numerous awards for his volunteer work. He loves working at the hospital, meeting new people and giving warmth and comfort to patients, visitors and staff.
Felix is a 3.5 pound Maltese who has absolutely no concept of his true size. He has participated in pet therapy programs in hospitals, universities and nursing homes for five of his eight years and had never met a stranger. His favorite hobbies include chasing deer from the yard and turning large men into small dog lovers.
Jamie is four-years-old and has been enjoying pet therapy for almost two years. She loves playing with her friends at doggy daycare and being with her family at home. She has a duck toy fetish and particularly likes ones that make loud and obnoxious noises. She enjoys visiting everyone in the hospital!
Mab is a seven-year-old pug who was adopted after her family’s property was damaged in the Colorado Black Forest fire. She has been fulfilling her life's mission as a therapy dog since 2014. She loves bringing comfort and companionship to patients because she knows she receives petting and snuggling in return! Mab also participates in a library reading program with children, which is perfect for her since she is named after a Shakespearian fairy queen.
Meg has been assisting patients through the Pet Therapy Program since the summer of 2009. She usually visits patients on the fourth and sixth floors of the hospital. Meg got her name from the soccer term "nutmeg" and that’s why she wears a soccer ball collar. She enjoys talking long walks and chewing on her toys. Of course, the occasionally belly rub isn't too bad either.
Nomi was born on the campus of Guide Dogs for the Blind in 2013. She completed the training program, but decided she liked attention too much to live life as a service dog. One glance in her direction and Nomi will begin wagging her tail. Talk to her and her tail can't seem to stop. Pet her and you will be her friend for a lifetime. Nomi may be a small black lab but she has a big personality!
Oscar is a golden-lab cross who career changed from Guide Dogs for the Blind at 15 months of age due to immature cataracts. As his puppy raiser, I was able to bring him back home to become my second therapy dog partner. Due to his service dog status, Oscar has been working since he was a tiny puppy. He is mellow, gentle and intuitive, a people magnet who has the ability to bring an air of calm wherever he goes. Napping is his specialty although now that he is a "normal" dog, he is learning to enjoy previously forbidden games such as fetch.
Snickers is a four-year-old black labradoodle and has been part of the program for two years. Snickers may appear calm and mellow, but he does get his bursts of energy when his favorite toys turn up. He will visit any area of the hospital and loves getting a glass of ice as a reward when visits are over.
Spencer is a black-and-white English Springer Spaniel following in the paw steps of his great-aunt, Jamie, who has been visiting at Sky Ridge since 2009. Jamie’s father and Spencer’s great-grandfather was Diamond Jim, who won the Westminster in 2007 and was a nationally recognized Alzheimer’s Association therapy dog. Spencer has worked very hard from the time he was a small puppy to learn good manners. He loves people and is always ready to give them a paw. Spencer is a sweet boy who is very affectionate and loves to play fetch, chew his bones, and play with Jamie. He loves to be pet and get hugs from anyone he visits.
U2 began visiting Sky Ridge in October 2010 and will soon be five-years-old. Her name was inspired by her owner’s favorite band. U2 spends her down time taking walks and chasing away the rabbits and squirrels. You will usually see U2 on the third, fourth and fifth floors of the hospital.
Willie is a six-year-old Aussiedoodle who has been part of the therapy program since October 2013. Willie is very friendly, has boundless energy and loves life. Patients remark about how mellow he is, but outside his Sky Ridge duties, he is anything but mellow. He loves chasing squirrels or his toys, but especially loves taunting his canine cousin Sadie. He enjoys camping, hiking and riding in the car.