Volunteer Eric, therapy dog Remy bring joy to staff, patients

April 01, 2024

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Over the past nine years, Eric Hoff and his dog Remy have achieved celebrity status at Denver Health. From hand decorated patient signs requesting visits in the Acute Center for Eating Disorders to the homemade dog-friendly birthday cakes made by the staff in the MICU, it is clear everyone knows and loves Remy.

After nearly 800 shifts, this pet therapy team has brought comfort and joy to thousands of patients and staff members. For his service and dedication, Remy was recently awarded the highest designation by the American Kennel Club, Pet Therapy Dog Supreme.

Remy’s journey from a severely abused puppy to therapy dog was made possible by Eric’s tireless dedication and gentle training. Eric found Remy in 2013, three years after his beloved golden retriever passed away. Remy was at first a fearful and submissive puppy who had been passed from one abusive owner to the next. With Eric’s patient training, Remy’s fear faded and his affectionate and outgoing personality emerged. Eric knew then that Remy had a special gift that should be shared and started the training that led them to Denver Health.

Eric Hoff and his dog Remy

From their first shift, the pair found meaning and joy in making their rounds. Eric realized quickly that Remy had an intuitive sense of how to comfort patients. In one special moment in the SICU, a patient with quadriplegia was excited to interact with Remy. Without the ability to give pets or scratches, Eric found another solution for the pair to bond. With the help of staff, a cardiac chair and a few of Remy’s beloved marshmallow treats, Remy was able to nuzzle his face on the patient’s shoulder much to the patient’s delight.

In another memorable moment, Remy and Eric were invited to visit a patient on comfort care. He had no signs of neurological activity and the family was struggling with how to say goodbye. From the first moment in the room, Remy was determined to get up on the bed to lay beside the patient. While therapy dogs being on patient’s beds isn’t customary, Remy was focused, and the family and staff agreed to let him try. As soon as he did, the patient opened his eyes for the first time in weeks. Though it was only a neurological response from Remy’s touch, it finally gave the family a chance to say goodbye and the peace they had been searching for.

The impact of Eric and Remy’s service at Denver Health has been immeasurable. The comfort, companionship and care they have provided has been vital to the health of our patients and our staff. To learn more about Remy, find @‌remy_thetherapydog on Instagram.