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CHI Memorial Dedicates Sculpture in Honor of National Pet Therapy Animal Day

In celebration of National Pet Therapy Animal Day, CHI Memorial dedicated a bronze sculpture of Sadie, a former pet therapy dog, in honor of all pet therapy dogs that volunteer with their human companions through the hospital’s pet therapy program.

Sadie’s owner and current volunteer, Wayne Gratigny, commissioned local artist Maria Willison to create the bronze sculpture in Sadie’s memory.  Wayne and Sadie, a rescued Golden Retriever, restarted CHI Memorial’s pet therapy program in 2012.  “I had seen how my grandson reacted to therapy dogs when he was in another hospital and thought it would be great to have dogs visit patients here,” Gratigny said. “I had five golden retrievers at the time, but Sadie was the most gentle and attentive to people.”

The sculpture of Sadie is located in the CHI Memorial Hospital Chattanooga Entrance B lobby near the gift shop and cafeteria.  Badges of past CHI Memorial therapy dogs will be in a drawer in the pedestal. 

The hospital’s pet therapy program was paused in 2020, but Gratigny came back as soon as he could with another of his Goldens – Omar, a rescue from Istanbul. “The pet therapy dogs bring such joy and comfort to our patients and their families.  And our employees enjoy the visits just as much as the patients,” shared Jean Payne, CHI Memorial director of volunteer services.  

Gratigny hopes hospital visitors will see Sadie’s sculpture and be encouraged to join the pet therapy program.  Currently, eight pet therapy dogs and their human companions volunteer each week at CHI Memorial’s Chattanooga and Hixson campuses.  The program will soon expand to the Georgia campus as well.  

Anyone interested in becoming a pet therapy volunteer or learning more about CHI Memorial’s program can visit or call (423) 495-8610 for more information.

Bronze statue of pet therapy dog, Sadie