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MUSC therapy dogs wed at St. Luke’s Chapel

Staff //February 14, 2020//

MUSC therapy dogs wed at St. Luke’s Chapel

Staff //February 14, 2020//

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MUSC Health therapy dogs Jazz and Murph tied the leash this morning and were pronounced pooches in love.

The two Newfoundland dogs had a formal (you know, because of the tails) wedding ceremony at St. Luke’s Chapel in Downtown Charleston. The couple was joined by a “muttramonial pawty” of seven friends and a large audience of supporters.

Cathy C. Bennett, the therapy dog program coordinator at MUSC Health, said today’s ceremony was MUSC’s first dog wedding. There is an annual Valentine’s Day pet therapy parade, but Bennett said she wanted something innovative, festive and different this year as a prelude to the parade. We concur, it’s definitely festive and different.

“And then I started talking to St. Luke’s Chapel and the musicians and stuff. Everybody was just so on board, to include hospital administration, and I just kept going with it,” Bennett said.

Jazz, who we named a Health Care Hero in 2018, and Murph have worked together in the past, and Bennett said Newfoundlands are generally quite attracted to each other. Whenever the two dogs would get together, they would lie down and look at each other. Bennett said they seemed like the perfect match.

“They’re just so big and fluffy that everybody would get to see the softer side of a bigger dog because most people see all of that, and they’re afraid,” Bennett said. “And there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

The Rev. H. Frank Harris officiated today’s ceremony. He is a chaplain and the manager for pastoral care services at MUSC Health. Harris said he has officiated many weddings over the course of about 25 years of ordained ministry, but today was his first dog wedding.

“With any celebration, with anything that brings people together, I look for the symbolism,” Harris said. “And what this day represents is many people, especially the volunteers with the pet therapy program, coming together and bringing hope, bringing enjoyment and comfort to patients and families.”

To see the work that Jazz and Murph do, and them partnering together, is meaningful for Harris, he said, and for a lot of people who work at MUSC.

Jazz and Murph exchanged vows to take each other as their fur-ever furry beloved. Symbols of love were also given to each dog in the form of a large heart that they wore around their necks.

Bennett said she tries to organize community outreach activities once a year for the therapy dogs to share whey they do with people in the city. Today’s wedding raised money for the Charleston Animal Society.