FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A new program from Parkview Health allows co-workers to make their workday better to help improve their mental well-being. Parkview Pups is giving Parkview co-workers and their dogs the opportunity to become certified therapy dog and handler teams.

Parkview Pups is made up of around 30 Parkview co-workers and their dogs. Once certified, teams can visit Parkview facilities to provide comfort and emotional support for fellow co-workers.

Through the program – all canine companions are temperament tested and certified through Canine Good Citizen and Alliance of Therapy Dogs. Parkview Pups is funded entirely by the Parkview Foundations meaning, there is no cost to employees. The Parkview pup WANE 15 followed around Tuesday was 7-year-old Golden Retriever Samuel.

Parkview is one of the only health systems in the Country that is providing their employees with therapy dogs.

Samuel’s owner and handler Mike Brown will often tell Samuel to “Go make a new friend” when meeting new people. Brown says that this not only helps employees but keeps Samuel’s well-being in good spirits too.

“I’ve seen it really invigorate the dog, I think just like with anyone else, to have a sense of purpose that I think is helpful,” said Brown. “For the dog to have that same thing it think it is really beneficial and you can see it in him when he is going around and visiting other co-workers how happy he gets and how excited he gets.”

Parkview Pups is one of several benefit programs Parkview has to support its more than 15,000 co-workers. Parkview also offers volunteer time off which may also be used for volunteering in the community or mental health time off.

In early August, the first four Parkview Pups teams to complete certification made their debut at a Parkview leadership meeting. 15 teams will be certified by the end of September.