Illinois Dog Nurse Calms Nervous Patients

Jo Jo
Jo Jo

Golden Retriever employed as dog nurse to help school children at the dentist

Six-year-old dog nurse Jo Jo works at Pediatric Dentistry in Northbrook and is considered a valued team member.

Jo Jo is a trained comfort dog. Comfort dogs or therapy dogs are trained in a manner to give people affection; they are used a lot in hospitals, retirement homes and with people who have autism. Jo Jo was one of the first responders to provide school children with comfort at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children aged between 6 and 7 years old, as well as six adult staff members.

She has been working regular shift patterns as a dental nurse for the last few years at a practice run by Dr Paul Egger and Dr. Thomas Resnick. Jo Jo is considered a member of staff, so much so, that she is listed on the practice’s website. Lynne Ryan of Arlington Heights, Illinois is Jo Jo’s handler and she originally came up with the idea. She believed that the dog could comfort many people while they underwent treatment at the practice. Lynne is cited to have said:

“I’ve been working as a handler for five years, and I thought Jo Jo could really do some good here,”
“Jo Jo had to be trained to get used to all the different noises in a dental office, like the sound of the drill and the suction, but now, she gets up on the chair and reclines on children’s laps.”

Jo Jo comforting a patient
Jo Jo comforting a patient

According to staff and patients at the practice, Jo Jo has made a huge difference. It has been said that previously the patients would need nitrous oxide or another sedative to help them relax and get through the treatment. But now Jo Jo will come up and sit with them and they’re comforted. They can pet her while they get their teeth cleaned. She is described as ‘an asset’ to the practice.

Therapy and comfort dogs have a proven record in helping people through difficulties, whether it be a disability or just explaining a traumatic experience.Would you like to have a dog to help you get through your dental procedure?

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