Meet Sheldon, a 4-year-old Giant Teddy Bear Schnoodle, who volunteers as a Service Animal at Riverview Regional Medical Center (RRMC). Sheldon visits each Wednesday with hospital patients, Renewal Center patients and monthly with patients attending therapy at Senior Life Solutions. He’s made such a good impression, that a patient even asked if Sheldon could visit them at home once they were discharged.
Patients are not the only ones who enjoy his visits. The staff enjoy him so much many have made a “Sheldon Corner” in their areas for him to play when he stops to visit.
Sheldon is certified through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. Sheldon and his owner, Tara Hale, went through a year and a half training program with ThunderHawk Canine in Cookeville to obtain his certification. Sheldon also has a Certificate of Achievement, Canine Good Citizen Title Certificate and AKC Community Canine Title Certificate under his belt.
Tara and her husband, Mike, own a funeral home and discussed getting a therapy dog for quite some time. They said they prayed about it, did a lot of research, and talked to other funeral homes that had therapy dogs, but were unsure of how a small town would take to having a dog in a funeral home. Tara said God led them to a farm in Alabama, and that lead them to Sheldon.
“Sheldon has been the biggest blessing not only to me and my family, but to the funeral home and the families we serve, as well as the places we are blessed to visit,” said Tara. “People have welcomed him with open arms and that has been an answered prayer.”
Sheldon has expanded his visits outside of the funeral home. He’s been to DeKalb Middle School and New Life Early Learning Center. He has been invited to Murfreesboro schools and he’s going to a nursing home in Smithville soon. But RRMC is one of his and Tara’s favorites.
“We love our visits not only with the patients, but with the staff as well,” said Tara. “You all have made us feel like family from day one and I can’t thank you enough for that. We love the RRMC staff!”
Sheldon is a real “Love Bug” and loves to cuddle. He thinks he is a 77-pound lap dog. Here are some fun facts about Sheldon:
· Sheldon is a real goofball outside of doing his therapy work … he gets the zoomies and runs around in circles jumping on and off the couch.
· He doesn’t like to get in the pool, but he likes to play with his brother, Tara’s son, in the pool and race with him around the pool.
· He loves to play fetch but only for a few minutes, and to see the way he gallops will crack you up. Just ask any RRMC staff member.
“Sheldon just brings joy and laughter to everybody he comes into contact with. He is an absolute joy to have in our lives,” said Tara. “People come to the funeral home to see Sheldon even when we are not busy. He is truly a blessing.”
About Riverview Regional Medical Center
Riverview Regional Medical Center (RRMC) is a 35-bed critical access hospital in Carthage, Tennessee. RRMC provides general medical and surgical care, 24-hour emergency services (including an accredited chest pain center), skilled nursing, psychiatric services, childbirth and geriatric care to residents of Smith and surrounding counties. Riverview Regional Medical Center is a facility of HighPoint Health System. To learn more, call 615-735-1560 or visit MyRiverviewMedical.com.