Phoebe the Dog Brings Smiles to Faces

Phoebe, a social and sweet-natured golden retriever, has been carefully trained for a special mission: to provide care and compassion to anyone who needs it.

She can be spotted at elementary schools visiting children, at nursing homes bringing smiles to the elderly or at the scene of tragic incidents acting as an emergency responder. Most recently, she’s been making rounds at two Texas Health hospitals to help comfort patients, families and hospital staff.

“There is very solid evidence for the benefits of animal participation in promoting health – for patients, their families and for health care providers,” said Sue Shields, director of cancer services at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. “Phoebe and her handlers bring joy and comfort to everyone here. She truly is ‘gentle and humble in heart’ and provides rest for our souls.”

Phoebe is part of Lutheran Church Charities’ K-9 Comfort Dog program, a nationwide initiative aimed at bringing comfort to those suffering pain or loss. The dogs help calm hyperactive individuals, facilitate conversation, work with the developmentally disabled, spend time with veterans and the elderly and help in counseling situations.

On Mondays and Tuesdays, she visits different areas of Texas Health Fort Worth and Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest, popping into patient rooms and staff offices to say hello if they’d like to see her.

“Dogs can provide important health benefits simply by reducing stress,” said Dr. Sreenivas Gudimetla, cardiologist on the medical staff at Texas Health Fort Worth. “That has a number of favorable effects including reduction of blood pressure, reduction of stress hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine that in turn reduce heart rates and have favorable effects on glucose metabolism, reduction of anxiety, and increase in oxytocin levels that facilitate happiness and bonding. It also increases endorphin levels which improves sense of well-being and pain threshold in a natural and healthy way. Other benefits include reducing depression, building self-esteem, increasing ones desire to communicate and bond, and providing a welcome distraction from one’s own illness and problems. I could go on and on. This is a great thing!”

To see more photos of Phoebe visiting patients and staff at Texas Health Fort Worth, visit

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