In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

December 15, 2015

A Nose for Knowing When She’s Needed

By In the Loop

Lindy Streightiff and mom, Joan Streightiff , are one of 32 Caring Canine teams that bring tidings of comfort and joy to patients (and staff) during the holidays and the rest of the year as well.Lindy Streightiff loves her job. You can see her excitement "as soon as we pull into the parking lot," says Joan Streightiff, better known around Mayo Clinic's Florida campus as "Lindy's mom." Lindy and mom are one of 32 Caring Canine teams that bring tidings of comfort and joy to patients (and staff) during the holidays — and the rest of the year, as well. And though Lindy, a 7-year-old Golden Retriever, isn't paid for her time, she takes her work seriously. So does Mayo Clinic. According to a recent article in First Coast Magazine, before beginning their Mayo careers, therapy teams must be "trained, tested and registered with one of three nationally recognized organizations."

A page from Mayo Clinic Caring Canine's directory.

The dogs (and their handlers, we assume) must be bathed and groomed within a week of any campus visit. And both members of the team are issued name badges, complete with official staff portraits that must be worn at all times while on campus. There's even a photo directory on Mayo's intranet, which sort of made our day. (See the sample page with photos of Raspberry Bartlett, Beau Bunch, Bear Cleland and more.)

The job is a labor of love for Lindy — and Joan. "The experience has been more than I ever expected," says Joan, who was "in a stressful job, managing 120 people," before retiring a few years ago. She tells us she was looking for "a way to give back" after retirement, and Lindy's "gentle soul" made her suspect the pooch would be a natural as a therapy dog. She was right, and the two have been volunteering twice a week at Mayo for the past three years. (They have a second gig, too, spending two days a week at an elementary school "working with little ones who have trouble with reading." Good dog, Lindy.)

At Mayo, Joan says it takes at least 20 minutes to get anywhere because "everyone wants to pet the dog." Which is exactly the point, and something Joan (and other handlers) are trained to spot. A smile, eye contact or a wave are tell-tale signs that a patient (or staff member) is interested in some face-to-fur time. But Lindy has her own way of sniffing out where she's needed. At a recent visit, Lindy repeatedly tried to pull Joan over to a patient who seemed absorbed in a book. Though Joan normally takes "nose in book" as a solid "not interested," Lindy's persistence was enough to make her approach the patient. "I apologized and said, 'I'm sorry, but my dog really wants to see you today.'" The woman said she understood why Lindy was so insistent. "I had to put my dog down last week," the patient told Joan. The breed? A Golden Retriever. Just like Lindy.

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Tags: Caring Canines, Florida Campus, Patient Stories, Staff Stories, Therapy Dogs

I have been enjoying the Loop Newsletter ever since I started in June of this year, but this is the first article I could not resist commenting on this. What touching way to bring love and light into peoples hearts. I am impressed by this Random Act of Kindness #rak.


This article drew me in because of the dog's name, Lindy. I have a Mini-GoldenDoodle that I hope to get her certified as a therapy dog and her name is LINDY LOU! That's what my Dad wanted to name me when I was born, but my Mother won! Therapy dogs are becoming more & more accepted because of the unconditional love they offer to anyone, young or old. My Lindy loves people & other dogs and I am sure she would make a great therapy dog. This article has further inspired me to get on the ball, finish her training. There are many children and adults who benefit from a dog's attention and love and so glad it is finally being recognized for the positive benefits.

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