The comforting affects of animals have been noticed through the years. Put simply, dogs make people smile. Even Florence Nightingale recommended “a small pet animal” as an “excellent companion for the sick.” Silver Cross Hospital offers a comprehensive Pet Therapy program for our patients and are excited for patients to experience the healing effects of a wagging tail.
How It Works
Silver Cross currently has several dog/handler teams visiting patients in the hospital. Thinking less about their illness also means that patients feel less anxiety, pain, blood pressure and loneliness. Patients are encouraged to request a visit if they are interested in a dose of puppy love during their stay at Silver Cross. Our teams also visit organizations and schools in the community with special needs.
Request a Visit
To schedule a visit from one of our Pet Therapy dogs, please contact (815) 300-7975. Meet some of our friendly dogs listed below.
Meet The Dogs
- Bella D.
- Bella S.
- Birdie Girl
- Piranha Banana
To learn more about Pet Therapy or if you are interested in having your dog certified with Therapy Dogs International (TDI) to volunteer with Silver Cross Hospital, please contact Laura Valencik, at (815) 300-7579.
Bear was rescued from Kentucky. He was adopted in August of 2009. Bear loves being brushed and loved by all who enjoy the "gentle giant" breeds. He may be large in size (125 pounds) but is so gentle and loving, especially to children. Bear is the newest member of Silver Cross Pet Therapy Program and is looking forward to visiting many patients and their families.
Full name: Mainsail's Queen Isabella (named to honor the Queen who helped Columbus sail to America)
Owners: Don & Debi Duggins (Debi works as an RN at Silver Cross)
Breed: AKC registered Newfoundland (Newfie)
Birthday: Aug. 15, 2006. Weight: 115 pounds
Likes: food (especially sweets) and her toys
Dislikes: not being able to see people's faces
”It has been a blessing to be part of the Pet Therapy program. The volunteer program is well organized, and we enjoy the joy that Bella brings to patients, visitors, and staff. Bella surprises people with her large size, but Newfies are known as "gentle giants" and all that hair is good for petting! Bella likes the attention and likes to do her tricks; when she has completed her therapy visits, she likes to take a long drink of water and a nap!”
Full name: Connie Sue's Lil Bella Boo
Owner: Connie Shifflet
Breed: AKC Registered Yorkshire Terrier
Birthday: March 20, 2011
Likes: Bella likes to cuddle and play with her big sister, Harley, who is also a six-year-old Yorkshire Terrier.
Harley is a full blood Yorkshire Terrier who was born blind. Bella loves Harley and looks after her. Bella senses that Harley needs help and love, and she gives it to Harley every day. Harley and Bella cuddle every day in their little bed. Bella loves cheese and carrots as reward for tricks she will do. Bella is only 4 lbs. and loves to wear pretty little dresses and be carried around inside my coach bag. Bella (Boo) is full of love and she is more than willing to share her love with patients at Silver Cross Hospital and other venues of ill patients needing the love of a wonderful little (loving) dog!
Bella completed Basic Obedience from Stone City Kennel Club in New Lenox in November 2011. She became a Certified Therapy Dog with Therapy Dog International in June 2013.
Full Name: Birdie Girl
Breed: Cocker Spaniel
Owner: Penny Wappel
Birthday: May 26, 2009
Birdie was born May 26, 2009. She completed her AKC Canine Good Citizenship in 2010 and Therapy Dog International certificate in 2011. She is a very happy outgoing dog, her tail never stops wagging! She loves people especially children. She also visits nursing homes, assisted living homes and participates in several library s “Children Reading to dogs” program. She gets very excited when she gets her fancy collar and TDI scarf put on, she knows she s going to make a visit. We are very happy to be a part of Silver Cross Pet Therapy program.
Fun Fact: Birdie met Piranha in their CGC class and they have been best friends ever since. They love making their visits together and earlier this year they had fun modeling in the lnternational Kennel Club dog show at Mc Cormick Place. One of Birdies favorite things to do is cuddling together for long naps.
Breed: Irish Wolfhound
Owners: Roger and Deanna Specht
Birthday: March 24, 2013
Many don't know this, but the Irish Wolfhound is the tallest dog breed. Currently, Callahan weighs in at 170 pounds and is 38 inches at the shoulder (yes, that is taller than your average kitchen counter!). Callahan loves running around and relaxing with his brother, Bear who is also a therapy dog. Callahan is a gentle giant who thinks he's a lap dog. He is so gentle and loving, especially to children. Callahan just passed his Therapy Dog test in October 2015 and is looking forward to being a part of the Silver Cross Pet Therapy program.
Owner: Gary Fitzgerald
Breed: AKC Registered Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie)
Birthday: March 16, 2012
Likes: Running and playing with other dogs, chasing his little football, catching his Frisbee, and belly rubs.
Background: Clancy is a Certified Therapy Dog by Therapy Dogs International and also successfully completed testing for the AKC Canine Good Citizen. Clancy is a very active and playful dog and wonderful companion for the entire family. Shelties are a "herding" and work dog breed so he keeps his owner quite busy with walks a play. Clancy loves the snow and so this past winter, while the rest of us got tired of the non-stop snow, he loved playing in it every day. Clancy has started agility training and loves the jumping and running. His favorite treat is anything with peanut butter in it and popcorn.
Her Family always had cats, so they needed guidance on how to raise a well-rounded dog. Comet went to obedience classes at 10 weeks old and had her CGC at 7 months. She received her TDI Certification after her first birthday. Comet loves interacting with people and thinks everyone is her best friend. She still takes both obedience and agility classes and shares her family with three cats.
Full name: Dallas
Breed: Labrador Retriever
Birthday: March, 2007
Background: Dallas lives on a farm where he hangs out among the plants and trees, swims in the creek and chases tennis balls. He is an excellent example of ‘good dog’ for his shepherd/husky sister Layla who is new to the family and needs mentoring.
Dallas completed AKC Canine Good Citizen Class at Joliet Junior College. He is certified by Therapy Dogs International. Grandma Mary enjoys sharing Dallas with patients, visitors and staff. He really enjoys his Silver Cross visits.
Full name: Kasey
Owner: Kathleen Wagner
Breed: AKC Standard Poodle
Birthday: October 12, 2007
Background: Kasey has been a therapy dog with Therapy Dogs International and Canine Good Citizen since 2010. He enjoys playing ball with our seven grandchildren and taking walks in the nearby hayfield. He is very good at alerting us when a visitor is coming to the door. The birds were especially appreciative of his efforts to keep the squirrels off the feeder during the winters. When he is not busy outdoors, he loves to be petted or brushed.
Full name: Kato
Owner: John Sass
Breed: German Shepherd
Birthday: March 11, 2012
Background: Kato is a loving, playful and intelligent pure-bread German Shepherd. He received his therapy dog certification from Therapy Dog International and has also received the AKC Canine Good Citizen Certificate. Kato loves to play fetch, catch and, most of all, Frisbee. He catches the Frisbee on the fly, and most recently, can catch a second Frisbee without dropping the one already in his mouth. Kato is a very social dog and greatly enjoys participating in the Therapy Dog program at Silver Cross Hospital.
Full name: Max
Owner: Lori Greene
Breed: Golden Retriever
Background: Max is a 10-year-old golden retriever and has been with us since he was 9 weeks old. He is a great, loyal boy who actually thinks he is a person! He received his CGC in July, 2013 and his TDI Certification in March, 2014. In addition to visiting Silver Cross, he also visits nursing homes, assisted living facilities and participates in the “Paws For Reading” program at the library. He brings smiles and comfort to everyone he meets.
Full name: Piranha Banana
Birthday: Jan 1., 2007
Find me in: A Bow Tie
Piranha Banana has had extensive training towards certification for the CGC, therapy assistance and dog tricks. Besides Silver Cross Hospital, he visits nursing homes, schools and libraries to help children improve their reading skills. He runs a local chihuahua socialization and learning group with over 150 members and works with various charitable organizations to help local shelters, rescues and fosters in need. Piranha has a small column in the local paper titled 'Piranha's Tales' which describes some of his daily life activities and the people he meets.
Tricks: High-five, hide, roll-over, bang-bang, sit pretty, patty cake, take a bow, wave hello and shake paw (with persuasion).
Favorite Foods: Bananas, carrots, chicken and broccoli.
Loves: Playing in fluffy blankets, floppy toys, sunshine on his belly and lying on fresh green grass.
Fun Fact: Piranha was on WCIU-TV during the month of March last year and has appeared on the Jonathon Brandmeier Show, where he met Teresa Guidice from Housewives of New Jersey. He has modeled at the International Kennel Club dog show in McCormick place (with therapy dog friend, Birdie Girl) and was special guest model for the Helium Gallery's Chihuahua Awareness Benefit. You can see more of Piranha's photos, stories and videos on his website at www.piranhabanana.com.
Full name: Ramsey
Breed: Cocker Spaniel
Owner: Peggy Draksler
Birthday: Dec. 22, 2010
Background: Ramsey was rescued from a Naperville shelter when he was 6 months old. He received his AKC Canine Good Citizenship and certification by Therapy Dogs International in May of 2012. He began the Pet Therapy Program at Silver Cross Hospital in September of 2012. He loves coming to the hospital to visit patients and is always eager to ride the elevator.
Fun Fact: Ramsey waits patiently every morning for the newspaper to be delivered as he retrieves it from the delivery man. In the afternoon he waits again for the mailman as he also retrieves the mail.
Full name: Ranger
Nickname: Dr. Ranger
Owners: Jerry and Terry Giorgi
Birthday: May 4, 2007
Background: Ranger lives on a farm in Frankfort with many other animals/pals. He loves to chase squirrels and birds and any other animal that will run from him and also run through the creek. He also loves to nap, do tricks and get treats. He looks forward to going to Silver Cross to meet people, get hugs and be loved. I think those that meet him leave with a smile.
Full name: Rosie
Owners: Kelly, Mark and Alexis DiSera
Born: November of 2011
Rosie is a fifth Generation of certified Therapy Dogs. Her training started right away as a puppy. She has been shown in conformation as a very young puppy. At three-months-old, Rosie won 4 UKC Best of Breed Puppy and 2 Reserve Best Puppy in Shows. At three and a half months, Rosie won two more UKC Best of Breed Puppy. At four-months-old, Rosie earned her AKC S.T.A.R Puppy certificate. At five-months-old, Rosie won a UKC Best Puppy In Show. At six-months-old, Rosie became a UKC conformation champion finishing her title with a Best of Breed and a Group 1. At six-months-old, Rosie also earned her AKC CGC title. At eight-months-old, Rosie became a IABCA National and International conformation champion with a Best Puppy in Breed and a Group 2. As a one-year-old, Rosie became a fifth generation certified therapy dog through Therapy Dogs Inc (Michigan). At two-years-old, Rosie scored an Excellent on her OFA hip scores putting her in the top three percent for the breed. At two and a half years-old, Rosie earned her AKC CGCA title. Then, at two and a half years-old, Rosie became a mother to eight beautiful six generation puppies, six boys and two girls. Most recently she successfully passed the TDI international.
Full name: Rosie
Breed: Great Dane
Owner: CC Nessinger
Hi! My name is Rosie and I am a Great Dane. I am from the Great Dane Rescue, because my owner was looking for a new friend. They tell me that I am four years old, but really—what girl tells her right age?
I take CC to Silver Cross Hospital two days a week, where she and I meet and greet new friends in the lobbies and waiting areas. I also keep CC in shape by taking the stairs on my rounds, as I don't trust that small enclosed room that goes up and down! A great skill I possess is knowing just where all the treats are kept and dispensed by the friendly hospital staff. Hey - a girl has to keep up her strength.
Although working at Silver Cross is my favorite job, I have also taught a reading class to grammar school children in Mokena. Also, ask me, "What does a tired lady do?" and I can show you more of my talents. But be prepared—a treat usually follows that request.
Well, it's nap time now, so if you want to meet me and my person, find us on Tuesday and Friday mornings. We'll be waiting for you!
Full name: Rowdy
Owner: Jennifer Panattoni
Birthday: December 19, 2010
Background: Rowdy joined the owner's family when he was 12 weeks old and immediately began training as a competition agility dog. Rowdy had won more than twenty agility titles, including his championship title, before he turned three years old. Rowdy continues to compete in agility and is an excellent "trick dog" as well. Some of Rowdy' s favorite tricks include: waving hi to his friends, jumping high, kicking his mother (he thinks it's funny), turning on/off light switches, and running on a treadmill. Rowdy earned his Canine Good Citizen award and was certified as a therapy dog in July, 2014. On his free time, Rowdy loves playing with the other dogs in the family: Paris and Tango the Papillons and Kasey the Chihuahua. For fun after visits, Rowdy's friends can follow him on YouTube by searching "Rowdy Dog Agility and Jen" to see his super cool new tricks and latest agility competitions.
Full name: Sophie
Breed: Wire Fox Terrier
Fun Fact: Sophie has been a Certified Therapy Dog with Therapy Dog International since 2007. During that time she has achieved her TDIA (Therapy Dog International Active Volunteer), TDIAOV - (Therapy Dog International Active Outstanding Volunteer) and just recently achieved her TDIRVA (Therapy Dog International Remarkable Volunteer Achievement). She is quite an accomplished pup!
Sophie dresses up in fun costumes each times she visits, making her visits highly anticipated by staff and patients.
Full name: TJ
Breed: Siberian Chow
Owner: Susan Hausmann
Background: TJ was brought to a shelter in Peoria after his family realized that they could not afford to take care of him anymore. He had been there a few months when he was adopted by his current owner. Once TJ was comfortable in his new home, Susan quickly realized that there was something very special about him and thought that he would make an awesome therapy dog. After training for months, TJ flew through the certification process and has been happily wagging his way through Silver Cross Hospital ever since. "He knows when it's time to go to the hospital," says Susan, "When I put my purple vest on, he hops up and down at the door!"
Fun Fact: TJ loves the snow and any kind of cold weather. He likes to stand in the rain with his face up to the sky. TJ lives with three other dogs and loves to play and wrestle with them, likes carrots and fruit and fetching a ball. He gets brushed every day and goes to doggie daycare two times a week to play with other dogs.
Breed: Chocolate Labrador Retriever
Owner: Steven Manola
Background: Zeus was born November 17, 2003 from a champion line of show dogs, but because of the blonde ring around his tail, he would not have been able to compete in show competitions. Steven has had Zeus since he was six weeks old and five and a half pounds. He was a competition Dock Diving Dog with his longest jump of 26'7"! Retired from Dock Diving in 2010, Zeus needed a new task for him to do for the second half of his life. So it was decided that since he made Steven so happy every day since he was brought home, why not let him make others happy as well
Fun Fact: Zeus received his Canine Good Citizen Award as well as his Therapy Dog International Certificate.
Full Name: Zooey
Breed: Australian Kelpie
Owners: John & Robin Krynicki
Background: Zooey is 4 years old and 40 pounds. Zooey was a survivor of a house fire in Kentucky. She was shipped to Tender Loving Care Animal Shelter in Homer Glen and little else is known. We adopted her on April 27, 2012 and we use that date as her birthday. She received her beginner education at Pet Smart on 12/5/2012. She became certified as a Canine Good Citizen by the American Kennel Club on 2/19/2013. She became a certified therapy dog by Therapy Dog International on 4/28/2013. She is comfort to us as she is to others.