Magee Rehab. Hospital gets new therapy dog

Her name is Jovana, Joey for short, a two-year-old black lab and golden retriever mix and she is much more than a therapy dog.

When she was eight weeks old, Joey underwent training for 18 months at Canine Companions for Independence and learned dozens of commands.

She later went through six months of additional training to help patients achieve specific goals from balance to fine motor skills and everything in between.

The idea is to help patients like Phani Guthula, who suffered a bad fall on his job, function better in their everyday lives.

They practice in the hospital's Activities Daily Living suite.

"The types of patients we work with are patients who've had spinal cord injuries, strokes, brain injuries, orthopedic injuries and any type of neurological injury," said Christine Rinehimer, occupational therapist.

Patients often need help with sequencing tasks for cognition, with memory, and even getting dressed and undressed.

All Joey expects in return is a nice treat, a soothing belly rub now and then, some consistent appreciation and willing recipient of her affections.

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