Pearl is a cherished volunteer at Sharp Coronado Hospital. She’s friendly, comforting and always puts a smile on patients’ faces. She also happens to be a 10-year-old purebred standard poodle.
Pearl became a therapy dog in March 2019 after her handler, Pamela Young, thought she would be a good fit for the job.
“Pearl has always loved every person she meets,” Young says. “She approaches people she sees on walks, lays her head on them and waits for a pet. Several people asked me if she was a therapy dog before I ever had her certified.”
Young knew Pearl had a talent for making people feel special so she decided to start the necessary training for her to become a therapy pet. After a year of training, Pearl was certified and ready to volunteer. Young knew exactly where she wanted to go — Sharp Coronado Hospital.
“I decided to volunteer at Sharp Coronado for many reasons,” says Young. “I live in Coronado, and the hospital is an integral part of this community. Also, my husband has been an employee there for 14 years, so I'm very familiar with the hospital and their mission. I firmly believe in their approach to patient care and offering patients The Sharp Experience.”
Young says she loves how Pearl is able to help de-stress patients, visitors and employees when she makes her rounds through the hospital.
“My favorite part of volunteering with Pearl is how when people see her, they immediately light up and smile!” says Young. “I've been fortunate to have witnessed Pearl make real connections with patients in long-term care units who are normally not very responsive to their surroundings.”
Pearl’s impact on the hospital has been recognized by Sharp Coronado staff and beyond. In October 2019, the international patient advocacy group Planetree, Inc. presented Young and Pearl with the Planetree International Animal Therapy Team Award for their service. Planetree is a coalition of more than 70 hospitals nationwide committed to patient-centered care.
“Winning the Planetree International award was such an unexpected honor,” says Young. “Sharp and Planetree clearly recognize the importance of pet therapy and its contribution to the success of total patient care. I am a strong believer in the value of pet therapy and its ability to truly work wonders for patients.”
In addition to being a valued volunteer at Sharp Coronado, Pearl is also very popular on social media. She has her own Instagram account with more than 1,000 followers. You can follow her adventures as a therapy dog and more @pearlpoodle.