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Paws on the Plaza event aims to unleash puppy love

May. 4, 2022, 2:56 PM

Get ready for a regular dose of adorable when the Nashville Humane Association begins bringing puppies to the VUMC Plaza once a month for employees to interact with.

by Matt Batcheldor

The signs of spring are everywhere at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and there’s about to be one more, albeit a furry one: adoptable puppies playing on the VUMC Plaza.

VUMC is partnering with the Nashville Humane Association for “Paws on the Plaza,” a new event that will bring a litter of puppies to the plaza each month from May through October. The first event is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11, in celebration of Nurses Week; however, all VUMC employees and the public are encouraged to attend and play with a puppy or two.

“We’re really excited to provide an opportunity for our staff to step away from the hustle and bustle of health care to take a break, refill their bucket, love on some puppies, and go back to work feeling appreciated, valued and refreshed,” said Jennifer Glenn, MSN, RN, co-chair of Vanderbilt University Hospital’s Nurse Retention Committee, which helped organize the event. “We hope this will be a long-term partnership with the Humane Association.”

The Nashville Humane Association plans to bring the litter of puppies, usually about four to six dogs that are between 2 and 4 months old, said Becca Messner, the associaton’s events and outreach coordinator. This isn’t an official adoption event, so no puppies can be reserved on the day of the event. But if you find a puppy you love, you can start an application. Messner encourages you to come to the Humane Association’s office first thing the morning after the event to adopt.

Humane Association personnel will have information about the puppies’ names, ages, breeds and, potentially, where they came from. All dogs adopted out will be spayed or neutered and up to date on immunizations, Messner said. The association will have one puppy handler per canine to keep track of things and will provide floor coverings and cleanup.

The Humane Association regularly holds these “bark breaks” featuring adoptable puppies for organizations around town. Messner said the association is excited about partnering with VUMC, particularly after all the sacrifices that health care workers have made during the two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Being a nonprofit, we love to be the recipient of a lot of good things, but we want to return that to the community in some capacity, and I feel like this is something that we are all passionate about,” Messner said. “We just feel like we are indebted to you for the last two years, and how we can say thank you?”

Glenn, who is a senior associate of Nursing for Vanderbilt Heart, Neurology and Procedural areas, said she was never a “dog person” until she adopted her first dog, Watson, in 2018, and her whole perspective changed. (she’s since adopted a second dog, Dabo.)

“They bring me so much joy and happiness,” she said. “When the workday ends, there’s nothing better than going home to dogs that truly embody unconditional love. Hopefully, Paws on the Plaza will be a great way to share some of that same joy and happiness with staff.”

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