OGDEN -- When Carolyn Becker heard there was a therapy dog at Ogden Regional Medical Center, she immediately said she would like to see him.
The golden retriever named Bert walked into her room, jumped on the bed, curled up and went to sleep while Becker rubbed his ears.
"(The other night) I was dreaming that my cats were in bed with me," Becker said, "so seeing Bert was really a pick-me-up. He's beautiful and has a delightfully smooth and touchable coat."
The hospital recently started using three therapy animals to help patients heal and relax, said Sally Gale, director of volunteer services at Ogden Regional.
Once a week, the pets from the Delta Society -- a nonprofit organization that provides resources to help people incorporate therapy, service and companion animals into their lives -- visit patients as well as folks in the waiting rooms.
The dogs -- Dazzle, Bert and Toby -- are owned by Sue West, Vicki King and Marian Evans.
"They are all amazing dogs," Gale said. "The pet therapy teams serve as hospital volunteers. We have three teams consisting of the pet owner, the pet and a volunteer companion."
The pet usually gets up on the bed with the patient or sits on a chair, Gale said.
"With patients and guests, the dogs approach only if invited," she said. "They are stroked, hugged and even get their ears tugged by youngsters. A lot of people use their cellphones to get a photo with the dog."
Several studies have shown that animal-assisted therapy helps patients experience a decrease in blood pressure, relief in stress and even improvement in certain illnesses, such as heart disease.
"We know that a pet visit is a stress reliever," Gale said. "We can watch a patient's blood pressure (go down) during a visit. The emotional support animals offer is incredibly powerful. We have had grown men break down in tears during a pet visit."
David Eller was with his wife, Cindy, during a recent visit from Bert.
"Bert is very well-mannered and -trained, and he just crawled up on the bed and lay down right beside her," Eller said.
Cindy "was definitely more relaxed. ... Having the dog visit has just been very personal for Cindy. She's been distracted by the dog, and it's helped lift her spirits," he said.
Gale said one of the dogs even helped a pediatric patient do some exercises needed to help her recover from an illness.
"The dogs are meticulously groomed," she said. "Because of the grooming standards, a dog can only visit one day a week, as it isn't healthy to bathe them more often than that."
Becker said she absolutely approves of having therapy animals in a hospital setting.
"It was nice to have a visitor," she said.
"You're very isolated when you're in the hospital, and having a dog here to visit you is just so nice. It really helps you get through the day."