Providing Pawsitive Care

Volunteers with Atticus and Myrtle
Susie Nichols with Atticus and Carrie Bouton with Myrtle

The Pet Therapy program at New London Hospital (NLH) is designed to reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue, as well as offer comfort, and has become a beloved part of the hospital’s environment. The three current stars of this program are Atticus, an English Labrador Retriever, Myrtle, a Golden/Labrador mix and Zoe, an Australian Shepherd/Toy Poodle mix. These certified pet therapy dogs, alongside their owners Susie Nichols, Carrie Bouton and Kim Putnam, respectively, bring immeasurable joy to patients and staff alike.


Atticus, with his soulful eyes, has a knack for knowing exactly who needs him most. Once a week, Susie and Atticus make their rounds, visiting patients who light up at the sight of the friendly dog. For some, Atticus is a reminder of the pets they have at home, offering a sense of normalcy and comfort in the hospital environment. For others, his presence is soothing, easing the pain of illness or the loneliness of a prolonged stay.

“Pet Therapy at the hospital is the most meaningful volunteer experience I have ever been involved in,” says Nichols. “I believe Atticus and I accomplish helping people feel better both emotionally and physically at every visit.”


As Myrtle and owner Carrie Bouton walk through the halls, it’s Myrtle’s playful smile and warmth that brings joy to faces that have seen too much worry.

Zoe, the newest member of the team, brings a shier and more reserved approach while strolling the hallways. Zoe’s fluffy face steals hearts during every encounter. 

The benefits of the Pet Therapy program extend beyond the patients. Hospital staff find a moment of respite in the company of Atticus, Zoe and Myrtle and pause their busy schedules to pet the dogs, sharing stories of their own pets and finding a brief, but meaningful, escape from their demanding routines. The positive impact on the hospital’s overall atmosphere is palpable, with laughter and light-hearted conversations becoming more frequent.

Zoe, the newest member of the team

“It’s such a joyful experience to walk the halls with these dogs,” shares Amy Drummond, Donor Relations and Volunteer program manager. “To see the smiles of everyone who visits with Atticus, Myrtle and Zoe is a reminder of how the simple measures, like this program, can make a difference in someone’s day.”

Each therapy dog visit is planned and managed by the Office of Volunteer Services. The team ensures that all therapy dogs meet the highest standards, making certain they are healthy, well-behaved and temperamentally suited to the hospital environment. This dedication to excellence ensures that every interaction is safe and beneficial for all involved.

For more information about the Pet Therapy program at NLH, including how to arrange a visit or become involved, please contact the Office of Volunteer Services at 603-526-5133.