News and Events

Emotional Support Dogs Visit Wounded Soldiers at Rambam

Publication Date: 10/19/2023 10:00 AM

The benefits of a dog’s company, especially the emotional support provided by service dogs, are well known. Soldiers injured in the current conflict in Israel and other patients enjoyed a special visit this week, spreading joy throughout the hospital.

The Labrador pups visit wounded soldiers at Rambam Photography: Rambam Health Care Campus
The Labrador pups visit wounded soldiers at Rambam Photography: Rambam Health Care Campus

Wounded soldiers injured during the war on Israel’s southern and northern borders are being admitted to Rambam Health Care Campus (Rambam) in Haifa, Israel, for treatment. They have received the best care possible from our dedicated medical and nursing staff, psychosocial team, and many volunteers.

On Tuesday, October 17, encouragement arrived from an unexpected source - three Labrador puppies from the “Service Dog Training Center” in Kiryat Tivon, north of Haifa, were brought to Rambam. Here, they met the hospitalized soldiers and helped bring smiles to their faces. “There was not a dry eye in sight when the adorable puppies met the soldiers,” says Idit Leiba, an experienced perioperative nurse at Rambam, who also serves as a dog handler at the Training Center. “We wanted to involve the dogs in the national effort in a way that could make many people happy.” Bringing them to meet the patients at Rambam was a perfect solution.

The dogs and their handlers met the recovering soldiers and spread joy among the other patients and staff.

“We were asked to meet many patients to encourage those struggling to function because of their emotional state,” Leiba recounts. “Our teams, who are also emotionally exhausted and saddened by the situation in Israel, also received an ‘injection’ of encouragement. Service dogs have many benefits, such as reducing stress and tension triggered by the release of endorphins. The effect is immediate.”

The visit, initiated by Leiba, was organized by Rambam’s nursing administration, together with the kind assistance of the Service Dog Training Center, who jumped at the opportunity.

One of the highlights of the visit was when one of the puppies met “N,” an injured soldier who had not seen his own German shepherd for some time. “He told us that he missed his dog immensely and was overjoyed to meet the loving puppy at his bedside. It was certainly worth the effort!”