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Dogs provide comfort to patients at Adventist Health Sonora

Spirit, Show on Corporate Home

A couple who volunteers together stays together, as Jan and Larry Moberg will tell you. They recently celebrated 55 years of marriage, and they credit their weekly volunteer work at Adventist Health Sonora with keeping their relationship strong.

“We have a fun time talking about our day,” says Jan Moberg. She and her husband spend a combined 10 hours weekly working separately at the hospital, but come together at the end of the day at their Copperopolis, California, home.

And of course, there are the dogs, a mutual love that Jan and Larry share.

“The dogs help us stay together,” says Larry Moberg, with his companion, Tank, by his side. Tank became Larry’s companion when he was battling melanoma.

Jan found Tank at the Humane Society of Tuolumne County in Jamestown. “Tank walked right up and leaned against Larry,” she says with tears in her eyes. The dog stayed with Larry throughout his treatments, even accompanying him to doctor’s appointments.

“The things that help you heal are family, medication and dogs,” says Jan, a retired psychotherapist. She cites studies that show interaction with dogs has real impact on people’s health — lowering blood pressure, heart rate and stress levels.

The Mobergs have witnessed the power of canines firsthand, and now they spend time each week sharing it with others.

As the couple walks the third floor of the hospital with Tank and Jan’s dog, Sami, the staff greet the dogs by name, sometimes stopping to offer a good scratch.

Larry and Tank enter one of the hospital rooms, and the dog enthusiastically leaps onto the bed of Jamie Severson.

“That’s love,” says Jamie, recovering from two major surgeries. She begins to cry as Tank lays his head in her lap. “That’s when you know you can get better. And I didn’t know if I was going to, but now I know.”

Jamie recalls one day that was especially hard, but being with a dog raised her spirits and carried her through. “This place saved my life, and those dogs were part of it,” she says.

“I love to chat with the people,” Jan says. “We don’t talk about their ailment, but we talk about dogs or something else. It’s somebody different for them to look at and talk to other than the same personnel and doctors they see every day.”