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Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune welcomes first Therapy Dog ambassador

By Lance Cpl. Nathan Reyes | Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune | August 2, 2018


Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune welcomed its first therapy dog, Pappy Boyington, during a ceremony at NMCCL on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, July 10. 

According to NMCCL, Pappy Boyington is part of the Canine Visitation Program which seeks to facilitate patient recovery, decrease stress levels, and provide a communication medium for patients, family and personnel.

“Pappy will be an inspiration to those in need of getting through difficult times in their life,” said Sunnie Tortorici, Pappy’s trainer.

The Canine Visitation Program is a joint effort between NMCCL and the American Red Cross.

“This program is adding another ability to reach our patients in a special way,” said Capt. James Hancock, commanding officer of NMCCL. “There are great medical studies that show if you’re a dog lover, within five to ten seconds of touching a dog you will release oxytocin in your brain which relieves stress.”

Pappy has received the majority of his training at Wounded Warrior Battalion-East and according to the Marines and Sailors of the battalion, his perseverance inspired the recovering service members.

“All of us in one form or another have suffered some form of betrayal in our life,” said Tortorici. “I hope that Pappy’s presence and story will help to encourage others to overcome the obstacles that they may face.”

Pappy has earned his American Kennel Club Good Citizen and Therapy One Training, which goes toward approving his participation in the Canine Visitation Program.

“Pappy is going to be a great addition to our medical center and I look forward to everything he will accomplish,” said Hancock.