Sandy Nogle

Portrait of Sandy with her dog

Mabel and Me: Why I Started a Therapy Dog Program 

Sandy Nogle, Administrative Support Specialist, Ruth Lilly Medical Library

My wellness journey grew out of my love for training dogs and my need to focus on something else other than my feelings of sadness in 2021.

My youngest child had graduated from high school and I found myself wanting to stay in bed most of the day. I was like so many parents who fumble about to find purpose after their children become adults. It is a different season of our lives that takes a while to become accustomed to. In my story, it came with the added stress of the Pandemic, and my depression and anxiety became even worse.

My bed became a place of solace and Netflix my best friend. Between working a hybrid work schedule and actively training for competitive dog obedience, I was still fulfilling my responsibilities, but I was just sad.

A New Purpose

I began actively pursuing therapy dog work alongside my competitive dog obedience training to combat the sad feelings.

I contacted the volunteer coordinator at the Medical University of South Carolina after watching an online seminar where she discussed their thriving therapy dog program. She was very encouraging and gave me helpful tips to begin a program at IUPUI.

I submitted a proposal to the Ruth Lilly Medical Library Administration team to start a pilot therapy dog program in the spring of 2021. The team approved my proposal, and Mabel and I started visits that June.

I found myself looking forward to Mondays when we would visit the Medical Library. It gave me something to prepare for, such as bathing Mabel, clipping her nails, and picking out a seasonally appropriate bandana. Pretty soon, we were getting requests to visit other departments and events. I am not sure who loves it more, Mabel or me.

There is something about the human-animal bond that is lifesaving, whether figuratively or literally.