Having a ruff recovery? Nikko the therapy dog is here to help.

March 15, 2024 Swedish Communications

Nikko brings smiles to Swedish Issaquah by helping ease recovery and lighten stress for patients, families and caregivers. 

Prepare to be enchanted by Nikko, the furry wonder at Swedish's Issaquah Campus. Nikko isn't just your average volunteer - he has four legs, a fluffy coat and an endearing personality. He’s a therapy dog extraordinaire that will make your heart melt. Together with his devoted handler, Diane, they are a team devoted to spreading love and healing throughout the hospital.

“The job description for our pet therapy team is to be a calm presence,” says Kelly Huber, volunteer services manager.

Nikko and Diane bring that to Swedish Issaquah and play an important role in helping redirect stressful emotions when people face difficult situations. Caregivers and patients alike benefit from the loving energy of therapy dogs.

Nikko with a young patient. Nikko has been loving and affectionate since puppyhood. His handler Diane saw it as a perfect opportunity to train him as a therapy dog.    

What makes Nikko extra special is that he’s an unlikely therapy dog; NIkko is a Shiba Inu, a breed  typically known to be a little aloof and not particularly interested in people outside their families. But Nikko is different, says Diane. He's been affectionate and people-loving since puppyhood. Diane saw this as an opportunity to train him as a therapy dog.

“I recently saw a family point to Nikko, and it was interesting because Nikko went to each family member and cuddled up with them. It’s almost like he knew they needed extra attention. They even said, ‘He knows we need this,’” says Diane.

Therapy animals are also a wonderful resource for Swedish caregivers, helping to lighten the mood in the often-stressful profession of health care. Nikko brings smiles to every break room and nurse station he visits.

Therapy dog Nikko gets a hug from a caregiver on his rounds at Swedish Issaquah. 

Diane says that being a therapy dog team with Nikko feels like a calling, “I feel like this is part of our purpose. He has a purpose. He was given to me to become a therapy dog.”

Therapy dogs have the innate ability to elevate moods, reduce anxiety, and spread comfort. If you're interested in making a difference and joining our team of therapy dog volunteers like Nikko and Diane, visit our website for more information. 

Watch this short video to learn more about Nikko and Diane. 

About Providence Swedish

Providence Swedish has served the Puget Sound region since the first Providence hospital opened in Seattle in 1877 and the first Swedish hospital opened in 1910. The two organizations affiliated in 2012 and today comprise the largest health care delivery system in Western Washington, with 22,000 caregivers, eight hospitals and 244 clinics. A not-for-profit family of organizations, Providence Swedish provides more than $406 million in community benefit in the Puget Sound Region each year. The health system offers a comprehensive range of services and specialty and subspecialty care in a number of clinical areas, including cancer care, cardiovascular health, neurosciences, orthopedics, digestive health and women’s and children’s care. 

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