A furry shoulder to lean on

York Dispatch

Thumbs up: To comfort dogs — which, along with their handlers, are specially trained to provide solace to those in difficult situations.

The animals work with students in schools, residents in nursing homes, and even with defendants in Pennsylvania treatment courts. Buster the black Lab, for instance, joined York County's treatment court two years ago after six months of training.

One-third of the state's 60 judicial districts now either use therapy dogs in dependency courts or are implementing programs to incorporate them, according to statistics released by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.

Thumbs up: But sometimes there's no substitute for the human touch ...

Three-year-old Owen Folckomer of Wrightsville was born with a medical condition that necessitated the use of a walker to get around. The tot takes receives regular therapy at York Hospital, where his therapists are optimistic that someday he can walk on his own

During one of Owen's sessions, which include navigating the facility's hallways, construction workers Mark Badorf and Mike Ferree — who are working on the hospital's emergency room project — stopped what they were doing and encouraged the boy.

Owen's physical therapist Lisa Swartz said his face "lit up and he picked up his pace a little."

"He was so excited," she wrote in the hospital's newsletter. "This made my day, to know that people can be so caring."

York Hospital staff now are using the experience to illustrate how "everyone is a part of the patient experience," said Terri Nuss, WellSpan's chief patient experience officer, in the newsletter.

Thumbs up: To the York/Adams Drug and Alcohol Commission, which, along with treatment providers and recovery organizations, is hosting a recovery fair at Central Market this week to kick of National Recovery Month.

The fair, to be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, is intended to educate the public and to give hope and support to those who are seeking recovery themselves or looking to help loved ones, said commission administrator Audrey Gladfelter.

The force behind the fair is the Proclamation Committee, a new organization that includes members of the Drug and Alcohol Commission and representatives of local treatment providers such as Gadenzia, White Deer Run and Hope for Today.