Therapy Llama Visits Patients at Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown

Published On 04/06/2015

Above: University of Memphis nursing students Hannah Lacroix, Julie Rinke and Alexa Edmondson stopped by to see Pearl, a ten-year-old llama who is part of Mid South Therapy Dogs and Friends. 

Animal therapy dogs are quite common, but what about a therapy llama? There is such a thing and her name is Pearl. Pearl is a ten-year-old therapy llama who has been a part of the Mid South Therapy Dogs and Friends program for six years. She and her handler Tori Howks recently visited with patients and staff at Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital where Pearl brought a lot of smiles and happiness to everyone she met.

Pearl stopped by Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital to visit with patients and their families and associates. The animal therapy program at Methodist Germantown is part of the hospital's commitment to patient-and family-centered care.

“Studies show simply petting an animal lowers the level of cortisol, a stress hormone, so patients are less stressed” explained Diane Ridgway, chief operating officer and vice president of patient. “Studies also show dopamine, a blood chemical associated with happiness goes up.”

Peter and Audrey Van Wylen visit with ten-year-old llama Pearl. Audrey has been at Methodist Germantown for a little over two weeks and was happy to have a few moments outside to visit with Pearl. 

Howk, Pearl’s handler says from the time Pearl was a baby, her disposition has always been calm and patient. Pearl is always willing to do what Howk asks her to do such as go upstairs, navigate between chairs, and lay down, tasks that Pearl needs to be able to do in order to be part of an animal therapy program.

“It’s wonderful to see the rapport she has with everyone she meets and how she brings a smile to their faces and makes them happy,” said Howk.