It is not surprising that the patients, families and staff become attached to the special dogs in the Wolfson Children's Hospital Auxiliary Pet Therapy Program, eagerly awaiting the wagging tails that come bouncing down the hospital halls on their scheduled days. A visit from one of these canines would make anybody's day.
Pet therapy does more than elicit giggles. Dogs provide a therapeutic value to hospitalized children beyond what their human family members and our hospital team can. Patients are able to interact safely with these furry, huggable friends and receive unconditional love in return, making their hospital stays less stressful and more like home. Pet visits also help to reduce anxiety and provide much-needed distraction from illness and hospitalization.
Dogs and children seem to be a natural healing combination. Since 1995, our four-legged volunteers and their "people" have triggered smiles and delight everywhere they go.
A newer addition to the Pet Therapy is our Family Dog Visits Program, in which the patient's own dog gets to visit the child in a special room. It's for kids who have been in the hospital 5+ days or in an end-of-life situation. The program, which began in 2013, has special requirements and is a collaboration between the Auxiliary and the Child Life Department.