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Healing the heart goes hand in "paw" with the goals of the 10-year-old CGH Therapy Dog Program. Our CGH Therapy Dog Program (animal-assisted therapy) allows patients in our facility to meet with well-trained, people-loving therapy dogs. Halted during the pandemic, dog teams are now being sought to resume patient visits.

Pet therapy programs like ours have many benefits, including decreased sensations of pain and increased feelings of connectedness. Volunteers enjoy sharing their dogs to provide comfort and joy for not only our patients, but staff as well. We are looking for more dog teams to go through our training. Call Program Coordinator Deb Keaschall at 815.625.0400, ext. 5727.

Could your dog be a therapy dog? To sign up, you must be 18 or older, and your dog must be able to perform these actions with just one command from you and no treat bribes:

  • Sit.
  • Down.
  • Stay.
  • Come.

Therapy dogs must also be capable of walking with a loose leash (no pulling), get along with other dogs and enjoy the company of people.

Find Out More

If you think your dog may qualify as a therapy dog, fill out an application form and mail it to: CGH Medical Center, Attn: Deb Keaschall, 100 E. Le Fevre Road, Sterling, IL 61081. Or call her at 815.625.0400, ext. 5727.

Our therapy dog program is directed by Susan Jakobs, EDBA, CPDT-KA, Certified Dog Trainer. Reach her at 815.590.8008 or at