HILTON HEAD, S.C. (WSAV) — Hilton Head Regional Healthcare relaunched its Pet Therapy Program, welcoming back dogs like Doberman pet therapist Ocho.

Paused due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the program will include 12 certified pets who will walk the halls from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Hilton Head Hospital, Coastal Carolina Hospital and Tidewatch Freestanding Emergency Department.

“These furry volunteers bring so much joy, comfort and encouragement to everyone they encounter,” said Lori Trimble, HHRH Marketing Manager.

Ocho and Rebecca

5-year-old rescue, Ocho, brought a smile to anyone she came in contact with at the Hilton Head Hospital as she is a certified pet therapist.

“When they see her, their whole day changes you can see it,” said Rebecca Bass, Ocho’s Owner and Founder of Sea Bass Properties.

“The happiness goes on both ends of the leash.”

After meeting the Doberman Ocho, when she was a one-year-old after her owner had passed away, Bass says “It was first love at first sight.”

The basses love Dobermans because they are known to be great therapy dogs as they love to train and love people.

“It’s wonderful it’s just a pleasure that breaks the stress from the work environment just makes everybody happy to see her”, said Janae Barberio, Critical Care Registered Nurse at Hilton Head Hospital.

Ocho does not only help patients but staff as well, as she loves to get close and give kisses.

“It’s the best thing ever, it’s the best thing for us it helps me,” said Dr. Timothy Alikakos, Cardiologist with Hilton Head Heart.

“You can just tell that people lighten up and get happier and always helps.”

Petting a dog is proven to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol while boosting the levels of the feel-good hormone Oxytocin.

“It does bring down your blood pressure, it brings down your heart rate and anxiety a patient has,” said Alikako.

Dogs like Ocho will have an impact on patients who are in recovery, helping them to look forward to getting out of the hospital.

“Getting more normal things happening like seeing a dog, because a lot of them have dogs and they miss them, it’s like missing a relative,” said Alikako.

Do you think your dog could be a pet therapist?

“As soon as you get a dog it doesn’t matter how old they are, start training them right away,” said Bass.

As long as your dog is well-behaved, socialized and obedient you can join the Alliance of Therapy Dogs where you can find out more on how to get your furry friend certified.