Loki the Therapy Dog is Taking Care of Hospital Workers in Maryland

The ‘Dogter’ has delivered over 4,500 care packages to health workers.

May 8, 2020

Throughout the world, people have found creative and inspiring ways to assist their neighbors, healthcare workers, and loved ones during these challenging times. However, it's not just people who are reaching out and volunteering. Loki, a two-year old Rottweiler therapy dog is doing her part to help coronavirus frontline workers in Maryland in a very big way.

According to CNN, Loki along with the help of her owner, medical student Caroline Benzel, have delivered over 4,500 “hero healing kits” to medical staff at four local hospitals, including the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, where Benzel is a medical student. 

The kits include moisturizers, lip balms, medical powder, tea, and – of course – an adorable photograph of Loki. The items are even travel-sized so that hospital workers can carry them around as they work.

But Loki, who is also known as the “Dogtor” was no stranger to the medical center and already had a very special relationship with the staff. Beginning in December 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, Loki would go to the hospital three times a week – dressed in scrubs –to cheer up patients and staff.

"We were doing therapy for the entire hospital system," Benzel told MSN News. "Whether it be custodians, first responders, nurses, doctors, patients, or even family members in the waiting room."

When Loki suffered a shoulder injury, and Benzel could not afford to pay for the surgery, the medical center staff raised all the funds to cover the veterinary bills.

Recently, as hospital restrictions prohibited Loki’s therapy visits, Benzel continued Loki’s visits digitally. "We started contacting people and just checking in and making sure they were doing okay. Then we started doing FaceTime visits," Benzel said.

During these sessions, Benzel told CNN that she noticed that many of the ICU nurses were experiencing irritation from prolonged use of personal protective equipment, such as face masks. She knew first-hand that the protective equipment can cause discomfort to the skin even when worn for a short amount of time. That’s why she decided to supply care items for frontline nurses and other hospital workers.

Benzel was able to acquire the contents of the “hero healing kits” through an Amazon Wishlist according to MSN News. Through these donations, she was able to assemble an amazing 4,500 kits.

Benzel wrote on Loki’s Facebook page: “THIS was the dream, and it is coming to fruition: not only to help frontline workers/first responders, but to inspire others to do the same in their counties and states for their respective hospitals. Thank you again for all the love and support shown through all of this. We wanted to show our people keeping us safe some love, and because of you, we have been able to do that.

Now, Loki gets to do what she loves best, helping others. She gets very excited when I put her scrubs on before hospital visits to deliver kits, Benzel told CNN.

In addition to the thousands of kits that Benzel collected, Loki’s social media presence on Facebook and Instagram also inspired hundreds of others to get involved and make care kits for their own local communities. So far, similar projects have begun in New York, New Jersey, California, and several other states. The “Dogter” is a real hero.

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HILLA BENZAKEN, CONTRIBUTOR
Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.