Boulder Community Health Receives $250,000 Donation to Help Expand Therapy Dog Program

When Maisie, Nina or Chica arrive at Boulder Community Health and walk – on all fours – down the hall to the progressive care unit, smiles quickly spread across the faces of patients and staff who eagerly wait to see them. to welcome.

These furry guests are just some of the 19 dogs that make up the BCH Canine Corps team, which regularly visits hospital staff and patients.

On Tuesday, BCH announced a recent donation of $250,000 received from Judi Cogen in honor of her mother, Lila Lee Cogen, and Lulu, her first dog who participated in the program. The donation will create the Cogen Therapy Dogs Endowment, which will help the program as it continues to rebuild its team of volunteers after the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the dogs’ regular hospital visits, according to a BCH press release.

“I have witnessed the power of dogs’ abilities to help patients recover from physical and mental health issues,” Cogen, a former BCH Canine Corps volunteer, said in the press release. “Dogs really make a difference in nurturing a sense of well-being.”

Jan Fincher, a longtime Canine Corps volunteer, said the program typically has about 25 to 30 volunteers. Thanks to the donation, it will be able to increase to approximately 40 to 50 volunteers.

“We now see opportunities to go to other facilities scattered throughout the county that we haven’t been able to reach,” she said.

All dogs accepted into the program must go through an assessment program to ensure they have the right personality for the job, and all dog handlers must also undergo training.

“Our training is manager training,” Fincher said. “The main job is to protect their dog and make sure they don’t end up in situations that would be scary or uncomfortable for them.”

A jar of treats awaits any therapy dog ​​who visits the BCH Progressive Care Unit, said Stephanie Vest, a nurse on the unit.

“I worked in this hospital for 11 years, and the dogs were a positive not only for the patients but also for the staff,” she said. “When they walk on the floor, everyone cheers up. They are a wonderful resource for everyone.

Vest said the dogs provided a welcome distraction for hospital patients struggling with medical issues. Whenever staff ask someone if they want a dog visit, the majority of people say yes without hesitation, she said.

“They help lift people’s spirits, and the spirit is a very important part of a person’s recovery,” Vest said.

More information about the program is available at

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