Sign In

Therapy Pets Of Larchmont

July 2, 2020

Wrigley takes his job as a therapy dog at Children’s Hospital Los Angelas (CHLA). “very seriously,” says his owner, Kate Buhrmaster.

The eight-year-old Bernese mountain dog is among 127 “volunteer” dogs in the therapy program at CHLA.

“He’s visited with — and hopefully helped lift the spirits of — thousands of people over the past six-plus years, and currently does virtual visits,” said Buhrmaster, a S. Windsor Blvd. resident and head of the program at CHLA.

Before the pandemic, the four-footed, furry therapists trotted from room to room, drawing smiles and sharing cuddles along the way. These days the dogs get belly rubs and share comfort and joy via computer screens.

“Even though they’re not here, I can still see them, and do everything I was able to do except for pet them,” says an 11-year-old girl on a video call with one of the dogs from her hospital bed.

She, along with other children, parents and the dogs —mutts and breeds alike — can be seen in an episode about the dog therapy program which recently aired on “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt: Kids Edition.”

“The dog therapy program is invaluable …. It just really lightens up his days,” says a parent of a four-year-old boy fighting cancer.

The dogs are so popular that their affectionate, furry faces are featured on trading cards that are collected by the children.

The dogs seem to intuitively know to be gentle and give the children what they need, Buhrmaster said. They are also well prepared before joining the program, have obedience training and take a test before they are accepted.

A onetime rescue dog, Wrigley, 8, was something of a C student initially. “We had to take our time” with the training, recalls Buhrmaster. But now he eagerly wears his uniform — a purple scarf and ID badge — before going to “work.”

His pack mate on S. Windsor, Kacey, also a Bernese mountain dog, is still learning the ropes. “She’s a superhero with the infant humans in our house, though … who love her to pieces,” says Buhrmaster.

“It’s not quite the same” as in-person visits, Buhrmaster notes on the show. “The one thing you’re missing is petting,” she agrees. “But all the other benefits — the companionship, the support, the relaxation that comes from seeing the happy, adorable face on the other side of the call, that is all still possible.”

The dogs are so popular that their affectionate, furry faces are featured on trading cards that are collected by the children.

The dogs seem to intuitively know to be gentle and give the children what they need, Buhrmaster said. They are also well prepared before joining the program, have obedience training and take a test before they are accepted.

A onetime rescue dog, Wrigley, 8, was something of a C student initially. “We had to take our time” with the training, recalls Buhrmaster. But now he eagerly wears his uniform — a purple scarf and ID badge — before going to “work.”

His pack mate on S. Windsor, Kacey, also a Bernese mountain dog, is still learning the ropes. “She’s a superhero with the infant humans in our house, though … who love her to pieces,” says Buhrmaster.

Register your Dog Schedule a Visit

  • Recent News

    Pet Therapy Program

    Saturday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day, which this year has a new sense of urgency for many. Covid-19 has taken a mental and emotional toll on healthcare workers across the U.S but there is a program boosting the spirits of doctors and nurses on the frontlines. At UC Irvine Medical Center in Southern […]

    Read more

    AMR Therapy Dog

    Rampart, a therapy dog with American Medical Response San Bernardino County, recently passed his Certified Therapy Dog exam. AMR acquired Rampart, a 1½-year-old goldendoodle, when he was 10 weeks old. Rampart started basic obedience classes when he was 4 months old and continued through advanced obedience classes, according to a news release. When he was […]

    Read more

    Workers Get Canine Interactions

    It was a long, boring spring and summer for the four-footed members of the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, who couldn’t visit nursing homes and hospitals giving tail wags and doggy smiles. The coronavirus paused the professional canine therapeutic interactions with patients and hospital workers. “You could actually see him falling into a depression at home,” said Wendy Kadish of […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Program

    An initiative by Cyndy Caravelis, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at Western Carolina University, will include a pilot program to use a therapy dog to aid domestic violence victims and their families in Jackson County. Caravelis’ German shepherd Atlas will escort victims and family members into court procedures and stay with children while […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogs Working With Staff

    After a pause due to COVID-19, the St. John Ambulance Abbotsford therapy dog team recently returned to visit staff at several different correctional facilities in the Fraser Valley. The PAWS inside program originally began at the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women five years ago and started off by providing services to inmates. Last year, the […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Bringing Comfort

    The Marion County Sheriff’s Office has a special K-9 who plays an important role. While most K-9s help in crime scenes and investigations, Comfort Caj is crime therapy dog and brings smiles to the community and the sheriff’s office. “He really brings a light and energy to this whole building, that you can’t fathom, you […]

    Read more

    Montgomery County's Therapy Dog

    Montgomery County has a new tool to help give crime victims some support. That tool’s name is Zurg. Zurg is the new therapy dog for the Montgomery County district attorney’s office. Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey introduced Zurg as the newest member of the team Monday. Coming from Canine Companions for Independence, Zurg will […]

    Read more