Dog therapy program celebrates 25 years

January 4, 2013 by  

The Woody Pet Therapy Program has been in existence for 25 years, celebrating its quarter of a century by creating a mosaic wall to pay tribute to the first dog to take part in the program, Woody. The dogs that have successfully followed in his footsteps are also honored with the mosaic, which will be situated at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin Texas, taking up a wall 26 feet long in the healing garden.

Woody, a sheltie, first made his appearance at a hospital in Austin in 1986, causing panic among nurses who had not experienced the presence of dogs in a hospital to help calm children who are sick. Since that time, Debbie Cobalis, the owner of Woody, has continued her work to expand the program. The mosaic wall is still a work in progress, with several months of work by 50 artists taking place. The wall was designed by a mosaic artist from Austin who has won awards for her work – Dianne Sonnenberg.

Individual panels will hold images of the dogs that have taken part in the program – the number totaling 52 since it was launched by Woody and his owner. Volunteers bring their dogs along through the Woody Pet Therapy Program to visit children who are ill in hospital. The dogs have been known to help bring children out of a coma, or to cheer recovering children up and encourage them to leave their beds. Local poster printing services may also be an effective way to promote the benefits of healing dogs.