Therapy dog provides calming presence for Allina Health EMS

[Allina Health Newsroom, September 19, 2023]

No matter the emergency taking place on the other end of the phone, you’ll find a calmness when a call comes into the Allina Health EMS Communications Center in St. Paul. The call-takers and {{alt}}dispatchers are trained to receive information, prioritize needs and respond in a timely and thoughtful way.

And when the call ends, they have a gentle friend to lean on.  

His name is Bohdi and while he can’t take calls—or speak human—he can and does help our helpers. 

“Everybody loves Bohdi and he loves everyone in the Communications Center. When he comes in each day, he makes a point to visit everyone,” said Hayley Czyson, an Allina Health EMS Dispatch Quality Assurance Specialist. 

Bohdi is a five-year-old Golden Retriever. Czyson always knew he had the right temperament to be a therapy dog, but the pandemic delayed his training. In 2021, tragedy impacted the Allina Health team and Czyson saw the need for extra support. 

“I saw how the Buffalo Crossroads Clinic shooting impacted our staff at the Communications Center since they dispatched for that incident,” said Czyson. “Shortly after that, Allina Health therapy dog Evie visited us, and I witnessed the effect she had on my coworkers. I then knew I needed to continue with Bohdi’s training, so he could become part of the team.” 

Bohdi now goes to work two or three days a week. He’s there for whatever his coworkers need – the warmth of a dog at their feet, the relaxing effect of patting a pup on the head or just the joy that comes when you see a Golden Retriever’s naturally upturned smile. 

“He can turn anyone's horrible day into a brighter one with just one look,” said Nicole Fortune, Allina Health EMS Dispatcher. “Our jobs are stressful and just having a moment to get on the floor and play with Bohdi makes a world of difference. When I’m having an off day, he’ll come and sit at my feet. He knows his people, and he knows when one of us needs him.”

In addition to Bohdi, Evie and Westin are therapy dogs on the Allina Health EMS team.


Posted on September 19, 2023 in Allina Health EMS

Share this article