Baltimore, MD

The "Dogtor" is In: Meet Loki, a Baltimore Therapy Dog at the University of Maryland Medical Center

L. Cane

If you visit the University of Maryland Medical Center, you may run into a very special "dogtor" named Loki.

Who is "Dogtor" Loki?:

Caroline Benzel is a medical student who volunteers at UMMC. Caroline adopted Loki when the dog was only 10 weeks old. She quickly noticed Loki’s gentle spirit and knew she would be a great therapy dog.

Having a mom who was often at UMMC helped Loki find her calling. Before the pandemic hit, Caroline and Loki would visit the hospital three times per week.

"Dogtor" Loki is trained to deal with many medical issues. She is trained to stop panic attacks, help people in wheelchairs, and recognize fainting. She also understands hand signals for all of her tasks. But she has a natural empathy that makes her particularly special.

Caroline told Good Morning America:

“I’ve never met a dog that's so empathetic. It’s kind of strange. There have been many circumstances at the hospital where she can just read a situation where a patient is in a very bad way or a family member is going through a loss.”

Giving Back to the Community Who Gives to So Many:

Unfortunately, Loki needed surgery on her ACL. As any mother would, Caroline was ready to sell her car to raise the money. When the workers at the hospital found out, they stepped up and raised the funds necessary for the surgery.

During the height of the pandemic, Caroline and Loki began doing remote therapy visits. Still, Caroline couldn't help but notice the toll that the situation was taking on the health care workers.

She wanted to give back to the people who had given to her. So she dressed Loki in a lab coat and had the "dogtor" deliver "hero healing kits" to staff at UMMC. The kits contained self-care items like moisturizers and lip balm.

Over time, Caroline raised $70,000 and delivered nearly 4,500 kits. Even better, people began to take notice of this on social media, and Loki and Caroline's efforts inspired others to deliver their own healing kits.

Accolades for Carolyn and Loki:

Not surprisingly, Loki has won many canine awards including the American Kennel Club’s Paw of Courage award and the ASPCA's Dog of the Year award.

As great as these accolades are, something tells me that Loki and Caroline aren't driven by any desire to be rewarded. Instead, they are driven by a desire to serve.

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