NORMAN — Quigley, an Australian shepherd/golden retriever mix, was welcomed to Griffin Memorial Hospital on Wednesday with applause, whoops of joy and a peanut butter-flavored dog biscuit cupcake made especially for him.
The black and tan rescue dog trained by a prison inmate at the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center seemed to settle happily into his new home, where he will serve as a therapy dog, providing comfort and companionship to patients and staff.
Quigley was trained by inmate Luke Sinclaire as part of the Friends for Folks program at the Lexington prison. The dog training program allows a small group of inmates with track records of good behavior while incarcerated the opportunity to train canines for life as companion animals.
In Quigley’s case, he was hand-picked by veterinarian John Otto for placement at the state hospital because of his laid-back personality and sweet nature.
“This dog fit the bill. He’s a beautiful dog with such a good nature,” Otto said.
Otto helped place a dog named Sarge at the Veterans Center a few years back “and it occurred to me a dog would be a good fit at Griffin.”
Charla Young, the hospital’s director of consumer services, said Otto “planted a seed” at a Christmas party about a year and a half ago. “That seed led to this moment.”
Recreational therapist Bo Cox led Quigley around the room, where staff had gathered to greet him. The dog stopped at each table and allowed people to pet him. He seemed unperturbed by the crowd of well-wishers and the noise level in the room.
“I can’t wait to see him interact with our patients,” Cox said. “The healing he will bring will allow us to better serve our clients.”