Tully, a fawn, black-masked French Bulldog, has apparently become a staple at a Washington state hospital where “Tully Tuesdays” have become a welcome highlight for patients.
“Visits from Tully a welcome bright spot for many St. John patients.”
By Marqise Allen / The Daily News
Tuesdays at PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center have become far from typical.
The day has been dubbed “Tully Tuesday” on several floors of the hospital. It’s the day when the friendly, furry, fist-bumping French bulldog visits to lift the spirits of patients and staff.
Tully is one of four dogs in St. John’s year-old Pet Partners program. He wanders through the hospital for a few hours on Tuesdays, stopping by different rooms, cheering up patients with a trick or a few affectionate licks on the face.
“He’s a French bulldog, and he gives a lot of French kisses,” said Kris Kibbee, Tully’s trainer, owner and patient therapy partner. “He really likes the ladies.”
Jeffrey Keener, 49, of Longview has been in and out of the hospital with sclerosis of the liver. Last week, was his fourth time hanging out with Tully. The 2-year-old bulldog seemed to recognize Keener as he vigorously licked Keener’s face after being hoisted onto the hospital bed.
“I was thinking about Tully the other day,” Keener said. “We’re getting to be pretty good friends.”
Dean Linn said meeting Tully was the highlight of his brief stay at the hospital.
“I totally liked it,” said the 47-year-old Longview resident. “I’m more of a cat person, but he’s cute.”
Tully’s charisma is undeniable.
“People just light up and smile, it makes their day,” Kibbee said. “It helps that he’s a goofball. And the staff get just as much out of this as the patients.”
Tully also has a way of drawing a crowd of nurses and hospital staff when he arrives on each floor, eating up the attention as much as he does the Cheerios he receives as a reward for each trick.
“We gum up the lobby when we first get here,” Kibbee said. “He’s kind of a ham.”
Sabrina Brier, a registered nurse at St. John, even has an alert on her phone to let her know when Tully will be stopping by.
“That’s my favorite person in the whole hospital,” she said.
Kibbee, 35, is working with Lower Columbia College to develop a class to help dog owners train their pets to become therapy animals like Tully. The nearest location to get that training is currently in Portland, but not every dog can be successfully trained in therapy.
“It’s important that (the dogs) like people,” Kibbee said. “But they can’t be crazy bananas.”
She added that adopted dogs from animal shelters are typically the best as they’re a little older and more mellow.
“A lot of people like animals around here and, when you can help and do something with your dog, it’s the perfect pairing,” Kibbee said. “I hope people take advantage of (the class). The patients get so much out of it. It just makes their day.”
It’ll be at least another year before the classes are offered at LCC. Tully has yet to reach the two-year, 100-hour service requirement needed before he can model behavior for therapy dogs in training.
So until then, he’ll strut the halls of St. John, making sure there’s not a dry face in the house.