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Meet Clara: Sheltering Arms Institute's new facility dog

Sheltering Arms Institute facility dog
sheltering arms institute facility dog
Posted at 7:22 PM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 19:22:08-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Sheltering Arms Institute recently expanded their treatment team by getting a new facility dog for patients.

Clara, a two-year-old golden retriever/lab mix, has been training since she was eight weeks old.

The pup will work alongside Dr. Cynthia Rolston, Director of Psychosocial Services and Inter-Professional Science, to help with physical rehabilitation care at the hospital.

“This is a new and exciting program for all of us, and I can’t wait to see how Clara helps our patients achieve independence,” Dr. Rolston said.

Clara was trained and matched with Dr. Rolston through a nonprofit called Canine Companions for Independence, free of charge. They say she's been taught specific commands that allow her to interact with patients in a calm and appropriate way.

"She will assist the patients with their therapies, help patients practice their activities of daily living, and bring an added psychological assist,” said Debra Dougherty, Northeast Region Executive Director for Canine Companions for Independence.

In just a few days on the job, the treatment team said Clara has already acclimated to the environment and brought many smiles to patients' faces.