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Where We Go

Where Do Dogs On Call Pet Partners Teams Go?

You will find our Pet Partners Teams in some typical, and some not-so-typical settings.

PartnersWe Visit Skilled Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Centers. There we find an abundance of residents eager to see and touch a furry friend. Our teams often establish a continuing connection by visiting the same facility on a regular basis. Our visit might be the “bright spot” in a resident’s week. Eyes light up when we enter the room and memories of past pets are always a part of the visit as hands caress and remember the feeling of soft fur.

We Visit Hospice. Here, a resident nearing the end of life draws comfort and solace from the nearness of a warm and gentle animal. Our dedicated Pet Partners have many treasured and long-remembered experiences during these special visits.

We Visit Classrooms. Whether we are teaching a Dog Bite Prevention Program or reading with children, what could possibly be more exciting than having a Pet Partners Team visit a school? Many children send us colorful crayon drawings commemorating the visit.  For a Pet Partners Team, a touching reward for a visit well spent.

Reading TogetherWe Visit Libraries. Many of our R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) Teams visit local libraries, but how about visiting the library at the University of Wisconsin during exam week? Here we find harried students eager to hug and pet dogs, as we watch the stress of long study hours and difficult exams disappear.

We Visit Dorms. A new program called “Dogs In Dorms” brings our Pet Partners Teams together with students in many of the University of Wisconsin-Madison residence halls. Homesick and feeling down? How about a visit from a happy wagging tail?

We Visit  Meriter Hospital: A Special Partnership. Meriter’s Pet Therapy program started in 1997 and was the first animal-assisted therapy program in Wisconsin. Pet Partners Team pioneer Lynn Malayter and her Labrador Retriever, Murphy, established the program as a part of Meriter’s Physical Therapy Department.

Therapy DogToday their legacy lives on with nearly two dozen Dogs On Call Pet Partners Teams visiting throughout the hospital and its satellite facilities. Areas these teams are currently visiting are:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Inpatient Rehabilitation
  • Adult Psychiatry
  • General Medical
  • Neurology
  • The Family Care Center
  • Orthopedics
  • Digestive Health and Surgical Waiting Areas
  • The Meriter Heart and Vascular Hospital
  • The Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Hospital
  • Emergency Services (first in the state to allow Pet Partners Teams in the ER!)

Volunteering as a Pet Partners Team at Meriter gives us a unique feeling of pride and participation. As we walk the halls with our Pet Partner, smiling faces abound!  Patients perk up when we enter their room and even the staff is glad to take a stress-relief break with a warm and fuzzy friend. We leave Meriter with a feeling of accomplishment knowing that we brighTherapy Dogtened the day of so many people who will long remember a welcome distraction to their hospital stay. Our dogs enjoy the visit too, tired but happy!

Dogs On Call Pet Partners Teams can be found on the Meriter website. Go to, “Patient & Visitor,” then “Therapy Dogs On Call.” There you’ll find pictures of all the wonderful teams that visit.

Meriter’s ongoing support of Dogs On Call is reflected by the generous use of the hospital’s educational facility, McConnell Hall, for many Dogs On Call activities, including workshops, meetings, and Pet Partners classes throughout the year.

We Visit the University of Wisconsin Hospital. Dogs On Call, Inc. is proud to be partnered with the UW Hospital in their pioneer pet therapy program. Teams visit patients and family in the surgical waiting area and dayrooms of the inpatient rehabilitation and psychiatric units; in-room visits are conducted in two neurology units, a cardiology unit, and the general medical unit. More units will be added as the program grows. A visit from a dog is a big motivator to get patients out of bed and moving!

We Visit the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital. After completing extensive training and passing a probationary period, very experienced teams are eligible to visit in select units at the VA Hospital. Our teams currently visit the PTSD Acute Care Unit, as well as the Community Living Center (chronic care, including Hospice, Physical Medicine Rehabilitation, and Skilled Nursing). We are expanding our coverage to the Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation and Treatment Program.  We also visit Dryhootch-Madison which, while not part of the VA, is a local non-profit offering peer-to-peer mentoring and support services to veterans.  It would be hard to find a more deserving group of people to have a friendly and fun visit from a furry friend!

We visit Columbia Correctional Institution. DOC teams are visiting select inmates at Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI) in Portage at highly supervised, once-a-month events. The visits are offered to the inmates as a reward for good behavior and meeting goals. CCI staff is very supportive and reaction from inmates has been enthusiastic; some of them have not touched a friendly dog in decades – or ever!

Acknowledging the high standards of both Pet Partners and Dogs On Call, Meriter Hospital, UW Hospital and the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital accept only Pet Partners Teams affiliated with Dogs On Call.

With all these visits, is there any place we do not go?  As members of Pet Partners, our teams are not permitted to make visits to private homes.

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