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Cobleskill Regional Hospital’s Therapy Dogs Visitation Program Delights Patients

Written By Editor on 10/17/18 | 10/17/18

Cobleskill Regional Hospital’s Therapy Dogs Visitation Program Delights Patients
Cobleskill Regional Hospital (CRH), part of the Bassett Healthcare Network, wants to
provide a proverbial scratch behind the ears and a pat on the head to the five therapy
dogs and a thank you to four therapy animal handlers in the hospital’s Therapy Dogs
Visitation Program.

“Our therapy animal program exists to take stress and burdens away from our
patients,” said Marie Dropkin, chaplain at CRH. “Petting the dogs brings back
memories of their childhood, pets they have had, or may still have at home and are

Heather Johnson, TDI therapy animal handler, said, “when the patients hold the dogs and interact with
them, I can tell they are experiencing joy. It’s a wonderful way we can brighten our patients’ stay.”
Therapy animal dogs must be certified through a rigorous training process with an organization like
Therapy Dogs International (TDI). TDI is a volunteer organization dedicated to regulating, testing and
registration of therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers for the purpose of visiting nursing homes,
hospitals and wherever else therapy dogs are needed.

“I absolutely love volunteering,” said Heather Johnson, TDI therapy animal handler. “It’s so rewarding to see patients’ eyes light up whenever I come into the room with my poodles Sampson and Delilah.”
Johnson visits with her two poodles; Betty Lou Adamovich visits with her golden retriever, Nika; Tara
Keyser visits with her Doberman pinscher, Elle; and Suzanne Vortkamp visits with her German shepherd Chester.

Marie Dropkin coordinates the 20 volunteers who have patient contact: pastoral care visitors, “friendly”
visitors as well as the therapy animal visits.  Margaret Walker, physical therapy aide, accompanies the
handlers and their dogs. To learn more about volunteer opportunities at CRH, visit or call

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