Stamford Health Welcomes First-ever Facility Therapy Dog, Harrison

Published: September 12, 2023

Andie Jodko, Communications Director
Stamford Health
[email protected]

STAMFORD, CT, SEPTEMBER 12, 2023 – Today, Stamford Health announced the newest (and fluffiest) addition to its staff: Harrison, a two-year-old, 80-pound golden retriever. Harrison will serve as Stamford Health’s first Facility Therapy Dog in his brand-new full-time role as part of Stamford Health’s Planetree & Patient Experience Team. Stamford Health is Planetree Gold-Certified for Excellence in Person-Centered Care, which prioritizes the active participation of patients and their care partners throughout the health care process.

“Harrison’s arrival at Stamford Health is an example of our dedication to providing compassionate care aligned with the Planetree philosophy,” remarked Kathleen Silard, President & CEO at Stamford Health. “We recognize that providing the best possible care and work environment takes many forms, like offering cutting-edge procedures, working with world-class partners, and yes, sometimes even cute and talented canines!”

Harrison is a full member of the Stamford Health team, working 40 hours a week and helping to provide a focused level of support to departments throughout the system including (but not limited to) physical rehabilitation, behavioral health, emergency medicine, and pediatrics.

With some advanced training under his collar, Harrison can perform an impressive array of tasks, such as:

  • Demonstrating pill swallowing for certain pediatric patients who are afraid to take their medicine (no real medicine for Harrison though!).
  • Modeling simulations of intravenous line insertions by pretending to accept a needle into one of his veins.
  • Instructing patients how to breathe through a nebulizer mask.
  • Guiding physical therapy exercises for recovering patients and helping to improve their motor skills and balance by rolling a ball or ring toss with patients, or even helping keep patients upright during their exercises.


In addition, Harrison is trained to help some of the most vulnerable behavioral health patients communicate in ways that they often cannot with human beings and will offer the same kind of affection to clinical staff who often need to decompress given the stressful nature of a job in health care. He’s always happy to accompany a child on a gurney ride to the X-ray room as well!

“I’m paws-itively thrilled to start my grown-up job at Stamford Health, helping patients of all kinds at the hospital,” said Harrison. “Whether a patient or staff member is having a ruff day, or is scared about a procedure, I’m the dog-tor they can rely on to help them feel better!”

As part of the Stamford Health team, Harrison’s wellbeing is taken very seriously. Stamford Health Medical Group physician Kathie Nurena, MD, Assistant Director of Family Medicine, is a certified animal trainer, and the Medical Director of Stamford Health’s Facility Therapy Dog program. Dr. Nurena is a supporting member of both the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and the Association of Professional Dog Training (APDT). Dr. Nurena meets with Harrison and his primary and secondary handlers weekly to assess Harrison’s overall health and wellbeing and training schedule. When Harrison is not working, he goes home with his caregiver, a Stamford Health employee, where he enjoys lots of belly rubs, treats, long walks and a well-deserved break from caring for others.

For further details about Harrison, visit Meet Harrison, Stamford Health’s new facility therapy dog | Stamford Health

About Stamford Health

Stamford Health is a non-profit independent health care system with more than 3,800 employees committed to caring for the community through a wide range of high-quality health and wellness services. Patients and their families receive expert, compassionate care through the system’s 305-bed Stamford Hospital; Stamford Health Medical Group, with more than 40 offices in lower Fairfield County offering primary and specialty care; a growing number of ambulatory locations across the region; and support through the Stamford Hospital Foundation.

Stamford Health is known for its expert, person-centered care through its many recognitions and partnerships. U.S. News & World Report has recognized Stamford Hospital as a High-Performing Hospital. The Leapfrog Group awarded Stamford Hospital an “A” for patient safety. The American Nurses Credentialing Center has granted Stamford Hospital Magnet Status, which recognizes superior patient care with the highest level of safety, quality, and patient satisfaction. Stamford Health is Planetree Gold-Certified for Excellence in Person-Centered Care and is a Certified™ Great Place to Work.

Stamford Health is a major teaching affiliate of the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and offers treatment and expertise from Columbia University Irving Medical Center’s nationally recognized heart surgeons. Stamford Health and Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) have created a premier center for specialty orthopedic care right in Stamford, Connecticut. Stamford Health’s Carl & Dorothy Bennett Cancer Center has a robust collaboration with Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center.

Dedicated to being the community’s most trusted health care partner, Stamford Health puts patients first to build long-lasting relationships. For more information, visit Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

Our website uses cookies

This website uses cookies to give you the very best experience. Your continued use of this site is considered permission by you to use cookies in this manner. Please review our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for more information about the data we collect and the types of cookies we use. Please note, if you link off our website to a 3rd party site of any kind, that website has its own terms and conditions.