'Dogtor' Loki the Therapy Dog Is Delivering Care Packages to Nurses Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
“Dogtor” Loki is making sure to look after Maryland nurses during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The therapy dog — owned by second-year medical student Caroline Benzel of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore — is helping deliver “hero healing kits” to intensive care unit nurses at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Benzel told Fox 17 that she first adopted Loki around the same time that she was accepted into medical school, telling the outlet she wanted a therapy dog after seeing the positive effect one had on her sick grandfather.
“My grandfather was sick and I lived with him in his hospital room for a month,” Caroline explained. “When he would see this dog, he would light up.”
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Loki and Benzel would spend three days a week visiting patients and lifting spirits at the hospital.
“I got pulled from school and the front lines,” Benzel said. “I was used to being at the hospital multiple days a week with Loki.”
The duo began FaceTiming with the patients and healthcare workers to provide virtual support, and Benzel soon noticed the strain nurses were going through having to wear personal protective equipment around the clock.
“Everyone was wearing PPE 24/7 and because of that, they were getting rashes and irritation from wearing masks,” Benzel told the outlet, explaining that she felt inspired to help alleviate some of that pain with care packages that she dubbed “hero healing kits.”
In the kits, which the medical student compiled through donations via an Amazon Wishlist, Benzel and Loki provide healthcare workers with things like healing lotion and moisturizer, Gold Bond powder, chewing gum, chapstick and tea.
“So far we have raised over 1,400 total kits, but are closer to +1,600 incomplete kits 😱,” Benzel shared on Loki’s Facebook page. “The donations keep coming in!! Needless to say, we are blown away by the kindness and generosity of people.”
“We will be distributing the majority of these to 4 different hospitals over the next week. AND THAT IS JUST THE BEGINNING,” she added.
The medical student revealed that their story has inspired other therapy dogs and their owners across the country to do the same for their hospitals.
“THIS was was the dream, and it is coming to fruition: not only to help frontline workers/first responders, but to inspire others to do the same in their counties and states for their respective hospitals,” Benzel wrote. “Thank you again for all the love and support shown through all of this. We wanted to show our people keeping us safe some love, and because of you, we have been able to do that. 💕💕”
To donate to Loki and Benzel’s campaign, one can order products from their Amazon Wishlist at this link, or message them to donate funds for products via Venmo.
“If you would like to start hero healing kits in your area, please reach out and I will help you in any way I can,” Benzel added.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.