dog

Beau always seemed to have a sixth sense. 

The 4-year-old goldendoodle can trot into any room and find the person most in need of a good lick or snuggle, said Terry Biehl, the dog’s owner. 

One day during a shopping trip at Lowe’s, Beau cuddled up to a woman in the middle of the store. Unbeknownst to him, the woman’s mother had just passed away, and Beau’s affection brought her to tears. 

“He just seems to know who to visit,” Biehl said.

Now, Beau uses his knack for nurturing as a therapy dog, and UF Health is hoping to recruit more good boys. 

The Neuromedicine Interdisciplinary Clinical and Academic Program is hoping to recruit more volunteer therapy dogs at the UF Health Neuromedicine Hospital. Currently, the hospital has about 12 to 15 regular pet handlers that volunteer, said Sydney Fuller, a 23-year old UF public health graduate student and NICAP intern. The hospital hopes to increase this number to 50, according to a UF Health blog post. The program has seen positive results so far from the use of therapy dogs, which is why it is hoping to expand the program. 

“They’re doing great things for our patients,” she said.  

The group will be hosting a therapy dog certification day Oct. 6 to grow the program, Fuller said.

Anyone can become a volunteer if they have a dog and attend the training program, Fuller said. The training is to ensure the dog and handler are a good fit for the patients. 

Dogs also have to go through the certification necessary to be a therapy dog, Biehl said.   

Biehl said Beau’s old soul and affectionate nature made him a perfect fit. She’s seen the way he helps patients open up, she said. 

While Beau will continue to make the rounds at the hospital, Biehl is already making plans for his future occupation. 

“In his next life, if there’s such a thing, he’ll come back as a Walmart greeter,” she said.