Stamford Health's new facility therapy dog changing lives

Harrison, a golden retriever, is Stamford Health's first full-time facility therapy dog - and the first one in lower Fairfield County.

Mark Sudol

Oct 2, 2023, 9:25 PM

Updated 232 days ago

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A 2-year-old 80-pound golden retriever named Harrison is changing the lives of patients and staff at Stamford Health.
"Everyone says 'Oh my God Harrison that's him,'" said Courtney Stupak, one of Harrison's 11 different handlers.
Harrison started back in August and is Stamford Health's first full-time facility therapy dog - and the first one in lower Fairfield County.
"Since Harrison is very highly trained and knows 53 commands, he works a 40-hour work week, with the exception obviously of rest time and we give him time in his exercise area," said Stupak.
Some of his commands are simple, like waving, but when he's working with patients, those commands can be very involved, like nudging a patient who's trying to regain their balance.
"He can model medications for our pediatric population or even help with our dementia population that might not want to take a med. Or you can put a nebulizer mask on him to model that as well," said Stupak.
He can even ride the gurney with a patient if they're scared.
"I think he just truly again loves what he does and just makes a difference in their day and that's huge," said Stupak.
"As you can see, he brings a lot of joy to people. We are very thankful that he's here," said Shannon Patterson, executive director of Consumer and Patient Experience for Stamford Health.
Stamford Health may hire a few more dogs like Harrison down the road.
It says many charitable donors are the reason Harrison is on the job.


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