By Belinda Dobson, OD, in College Station, Texas
I dreamed of becoming a veterinarian as a child. Although my career led me down another avenue of medical practice, my love of animals continues and has become a staple in my practice. My Goldendoodle Laci has become somewhat of a practice mascot in taking on the role of the office’s comfort dog. I got the idea when I was traveling in Europe, and the doctors there do a lot of unconventional things compared to here. In a few practices I visited, they were utilizing a therapy dog for first-time or apprehensive patients.
We like to make the eye exam a very enjoyable process instead of something to cross off patients’ to-do list. I saw how a therapy dog could be especially helpful for children who were getting dilated. Some kids don’t like going to the dentist because they associate the visit with pain, and I do not want them to feel that way if the drops sting upon insertion.
Laci, still a youngster at 1.5 years old, was first integrated into the office at eight weeks old. Since then, she has become a valued part of the team as our comfort dog. She sits with kids, and it takes their mind off of the dilation and directs their attention to something they can relate to. It’s a different and unique experience. Parents appreciate that the office goes the extra mile to make sure that their children’s experience is less traumatic.
Laci is also very popular when children come back to pick up their new eyeglasses. They want to take a picture with her, and some patients stop by just to get a hug.