Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital resident Erma Muhlbeier spends some time with pet therapy dog Buddy during the Jan. 20th pet therapy day. Buddy is one of Chaplain Nick Wasylowich’s two dogs that he brings into the facility at least once a month and they are always a hit with staff and patients. Chaplain Nick also works in the hospital two days a week, providing spiritual counseling services to patients. Kevin J. Sabo photo

Castor hospital therapy dog program proves popular

Chaplain Nick Wasylowich has been bringing his two dogs, Buddy and Harley for monthly visits

  • Jan. 29, 2020 2:30 p.m.

It’s a “ruff” life, but two regular visitors to Castor’s Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital always bring a howling good time to the facility’s patients and staff.

For almost the past year, chaplain Nick Wasylowich has been bringing his two dogs, Buddy and Harley, for monthly visits with the patients and staff of the health-care facility.

“They are so appreciated by the residents,” said hospital administrator Colleen Enns.

“They’re popular with nursing staff as well.”

Buddy and Harley are not the first dogs Wasylowich has brought to the facility. He used to bring his old dog, Amigo, in as a pet therapy exercise for the residents.

When Amigo died, he began looking for a new dog to continue the program. He received Harley from a rescue centre, where he was born; however, having doubts that the chihuahua would be a good fit, Wasylowich also sought out a szhih tzu.

“The breeder told me, ‘If you make him a hospital dog, you can have him (Buddy)’,” said Wasylowich.

As it turns out, after the simple obedience training and veterinary checks required to make them therapy dogs, they turned out to be a good fit, and Wasylowich began bringing them both into the hospital with him.

“I try to commit to once a month,” said Wasylowich.

“Though maybe I’ll try for more often in the summer.”

In addition to bringing the dogs in for regular visits to the hospital, Wasylowich is also employed by Covenant Health as a chaplain.

He is no stranger to the facility, as he is in twice a week to provide spiritual support and counselling for patients.

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