Riverside Community Hospital’s Level I Trauma Center has added a new face to their team: Tipper the Trauma Dog.  The trauma dog program was developed by Wendy McEuen, RN, Injury Prevention Coordinator at RCH. “I had this idea to train a therapy dog for our trauma nurses, physicians, residents and ER staff to support the unit with stress, burnout and depression,” said Wendy. “I initially launched for the trauma team, but Tipper became so popular with all sorts of staff that she now rounds all over the hospital!”

Tipper (Trauma Injury Prevention Puppy Emergency Response) was adopted from a shelter in January 2020 when she was approximately 1.5 years old. Wendy believes she is a Labradoodle but doesn’t know for sure.  Instead, she says Tipper is a “lover-doodle,” which seems fitting.  Tipper has a sweet demeanor and visits staff on different units to bring joy and a momentary distraction from work, which is valuable to wellbeing and focus.  Staff love interacting with Tipper, who often sports a cute costume, including a holiday elf, Easter bunny or USC Trojans jersey. 

While Tipper has proven to be an asset to the staff at RCH, Wendy’s vision isn’t complete.  “The goal is for Tipper to be on-call and respond to traumas for debriefing and decompression. I would like her to be involved with helping trauma patients and their families during hospitalizations,” said Wendy.  “She does visit some patients; but currently, staff wellness is our main goal.”

Tipper has completed her American Kennel Club Good Citizen Award, Therapy Dog Certification Test and multiple levels of obedience and therapy dog training classes. She has also had socialization with other dogs and exposure to new and strange environments, such as feed stores, bookstores, outdoor malls and outside dining areas, to learn how to behave in multiple situations and around different people.

Facebook: Tipper the Trauma Dog

Instagram: @therapy.dog.tipper