It’s simple, unconditional love: watching Health First Facility’s service dog Paco with patients is magic

The last few years have been difficult and the dogs have been a comforting outlet

Dianna Green, Health First Clinical Operations Director at Holmes Regional Medical Center, with Health First Facility Service Dog Paco. The past few years have been tough, says Dianna, and dogs have been a comforting outlet physically, emotionally, mentally, and even socially. (Image of health first)

Dogs provide vital comfort to many of us when it comes to reducing the loneliness, stress and daily anxiety that we continue to face during the pandemic.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Our four-legged best friends are more than just animals. They are family members with whom we share a magical relationship during the good, the bad and the tough times, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pets, primarily dogs, have a way of touching our hearts like no other. Sure, they sometimes bring us joy and slobbery greetings, but it’s more than that.

The last few years have been difficult and dogs have been a comforting outlet, physically, emotionally, mentally and even socially.

Dianna Green sees this impact firsthand. She is the Director of Clinical Operations for Health First at Holmes Regional Medical Center and is also one of our dog handlers. It is pure amazement that she witnesses the positive impact Paco has when he interacts with patients.

“Watching Health First’s service dog Paco with the patients was magical,” Green said.

“No matter the situation, when Paco walks into a patient’s room, the whole room takes on a different feel. Everyone in the room is immediately relieved.

Service dogs at Health First bring joy to patients and associates. Here, lab supervisor Gail Buckmiller visits Paco and the facility’s other service dogs, Lana and Jammer. (Health first picture)

That’s the power of pets. They’ve helped reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve heart health, and even help kids develop emotional and social skills, according to News in Health. Studies have also shown that pets can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and improve your overall mood.

And it’s not just the patients – our associates are also delighted to see Paco in each of our four hospitals. The brief interaction is nothing compared to the unconditional love it provides when it comes to sharing smiles and relieving stress.

Unlike us, dogs cannot detect COVID-19. However, they can understand when someone is feeling down, stressed, and full of anxiety. And when that happens, it’s an attack in its own right with hugs, solace, and cute gestures filled with sweetness and relief.

“The person might not even realize how stressed they are until this baby with the cold nose, wagging tail and furry fur on all fours snuggles up next to you with unconditional love.” , Green said. “I saw Paco approach a person unnoticed and gently put his feet on the person’s feet to comfort them when they were having a stressful day.”

Because of these blessings and unconditional love, our dogs and other animals are essential in giving us hope for a better future. And as things get a bit clearer, it’s always nice to have company and consistency along the way.

“It’s simple, unconditional love,” Green said. “Love is a basic need and dogs help fill the void.”

Health First’s assistance dogs, Lana, Jammer and Paco, are used to bring joy, comfort and entertainment to the patients they interact with. (Image of health first)

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