Facility dog Zeta is now at work at MemorialCare Miller Children's and Women's Hospital Long Beach. Courtesy photo.

Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach
 receives first facility dog to change the lives of young patients

Facility dog, Zeta, and her handlers, Catherine Hewatt, rehabilitation technician (left), and Shelly Forcier, OTR/L, IBCLC, clinical therapist lead (right), take a quick break from work outside Miller Children’s & Women’s. Courtesy photo.
Facility dog, Zeta, and her handlers, Catherine Hewatt, rehabilitation technician (left), and Shelly Forcier, OTR/L, IBCLC, clinical therapist lead (right), take a quick break from work outside Miller Children’s & Women’s. Courtesy photo.

MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach understands the impact that animals can make on patients and their recoveries. Each day, several therapy dogs roam the halls of the hospital looking forward to brightening a patient’s day. Following the success of the Pet Therapy Program, Miller Children’s & Women’s decided to pursue a different kind of working dog, a facility dog, named Zeta.

Zeta was provided to the hospital by Canine Companions for Independence® after undergoing an extensive and specialized two-year training program. She has been highly trained to work alongside young rehabilitation patients with physical or speech-related limitations to help them regain their strength and confidence.

“We have been interested in bringing a facility dog into the hospital for years,” says Shelly Forcier, OTR/L, IBCLC, clinical therapist lead, Miller Children’s & Women’s. “We knew that a facility dog would help our rehabilitation patients recover quickly and have more fun during therapy sessions.”

Zeta is a full-time staff member at Miller Children’s & Women’s, working 40 hours a week alongside her handlers in the Rehabilitation Program. Together, Zeta and her handlers join patients during their physical, speech or occupational therapies to encourage a more positive 
and unique therapy session. During therapies, Zeta partakes in games and activities with patients. 
She enjoys going on walks, playing hide and seek, soccer, bowling, dress up and more. She also provides comfort and snuggles to patients who are not feeling their best.

“Zeta loves to work and loves being around people, especially kids,” says Catherine Hewitt, rehabilitation technician, Miller Children’s & Women’s. “She loves to join patients during their different therapies and participate in strengthening games and activities with them.”

Through the partnership with Canine Companions, Miller Children’s & Women’s is one of the first children’s hospitals in Southern California to have a facility dog. Zeta was matched to her handlers and to Miller Children’s & Women’s because of her specific skillset and appropriate demeanor for the program.

This article was released by MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach.