Jitters exchanges holiday cheer with Marti Curtis as Curtis' daughter, Laura Kelly, center, and Jitters' owner, Mary Sours, left, watch. Photo by Cliff Hollis
(Dec. 22, 2009)
Jitters was one smooth operator at the East Carolina Heart Institute today.
With owner Mary Sours, the black mix-breed dog dressed in Christmas red and white made rounds on each floor of the heart institute Tuesday, meeting staff and patients.
Richard Reus of Jacksonville, in for a follow-up visit after bypass surgery, was the first patient Jitters visited. Later, she hopped up on an ottoman with Laura Kelly, then jumped into the chair beside Kelly’s mother, patient Marti Curtis of Bath, for some hugs and kisses.
Jitters is a certified therapy dog with the Delta Society, an animal therapy group. She regularly visits pediatric patients, new moms and cancer patients at Pitt County Memorial Hospital. Sours is a clinical research specialist at ECHI and coordinator of Pals on Paws, an animal-assisted therapy program at PCMH.
Jitters is careful not to spread germs. She gets a bath within 24 hours of a visit, and everyone must use hand sanitizer before and after petting her.
Sours said National Institutes of Health studies have shown blood pressure drops when people interact with animals. Anecdotally, she said, children say they forget about their “owie” when they pet Jitters.