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!
Bearje is a 5 year old Bichon Frise/Shih Tzi mix, which is called a Shih Chon. He has been a therapy dog since January 2016 and works at various Assisted Living facilities as well as with Ronald McDonald house. Bearje also did a Christmas visit to Denver International Airport where he was featured on the news. Bearje walks about 3 miles every day and loves to go on hikes in the foothills and mountains. He has about a dozen good neighborhood dog friends—both large and small dogs but he hates coyotes!
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.
Huck is a five and a half year old Golden Retriever who is new to the Pet Therapy program. Huck’s heart became even larger after he lost his playmate (our 15 year-old Golden named Cain) a year and a half ago. It was then that I knew he was “called” to bring love to others. His favorite thing is to be petted, while either sitting on your foot or leaning against your leg (sometimes, both!). Huck loves visiting the hospital each Thursday!
Hugs is a 5 year old Yorkshire Terrier who loves cuddles, running sprints, lying belly up to scratch his back and sunbathing — not to be confused with regular bathing! He has a sweet temperament, but don’t let his small size fool you. He isn’t afraid of thunder, fireworks or bigger dogs. His slogan is “big or small, love them all!” Yorkie fact: Hugs doesn’t shed!
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!
Louie is a 4 year old standard Goldendoodle. His registered name is Sir Louis Tweedmouth of Scotland. Mr. Tweedmouth was the gentleman in Europe that bread the first Golden Retriever. Louie is a big boy at almost 79 lbs. He's a little goofy at times and full of energy; everyday is a fun and fantastic day for him. In the mornings, he greets the neighborhood children at the fence on their way to school. He loves to go on walks and run in his back yard during the day and watch TV in the evening. Every person is a potential best friend. He loves to look you in the eye, to be petted and will give you his paw to hold for a while. He is just starting his career as a therapy dog and is looking forward to all the new experiences as well as bringing a smile to patients, families and staff at Sky Ridge.
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.