Dogs, Children's Hospital, Penn State, Pennsylvania

Dogs, Children's Hospital

These three retrievers work full-time to help sick children feel better

These three retrievers work full-time to help sick children feel better

5/6/2021 7:42:00 AM

These three retrievers work full-time to help sick children feel better

Kaia shows kids how to lay still on CT scan tables. Becky teaches kids how to drink medicine from a syringe. Pilot performs tricks for kids in the ICU.

Kaia, Becky and Pilot are three retrievers that help comfort children undergoing treatment at Penn State Health Children's Hospital in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Together, they help lower children's stress and provide diversions and comfort during their stay.

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During the first 14 to 24 months of their lives, the dogs were trained at a Georgia-based facility called Canine Assistants Incorporated. There, they learned how to communicate with their handlers, provide non-threatening comfort to sick children and navigate around medical devices like IV poles and wheelchairs, the hospital said.

Now, each dog works about 40 hours a week, with time set aside for walks, naps and relaxation.Kaia demonstrates to children how to lay still on CT scan tables. Becky drinks juice from a syringe to help kids feel more comfortable with taking medication the same way. Pilot gently nuzzles and performs tricks for kids in the Pediatric Surgical Care Unit and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. headtopics.com

Retrievers are working as comfort animals to help sick children feel better in a Pennsylvania hospital. In this photo illustration, a young child kisses the cheek of a golden retriever dog.sonyae/GettyOn evenings and weekends, the dogs go home with their handlers, who are also pediatric medical workers. Together, they enjoy walks, play games and rest.

"We'll see patients [after an operation]," Pilot's primary handler Stacy Gloudemans told WTAJ."They are maybe hesitant to start walking again or if they're in pain, he's a good motivator and it doesn't feel like work.... If I have them moving to brush him or if we pretend to brush his teeth, or being able to hold the leash and walk the dog themselves—versus their mom making them walk down the hallway—it's not work to them. It's fun."

Usually, it costs over $22,000 to train a facility dog like Kaia, Becky and Pilot. The cost includes training, vaccinations, vet care and food for the dog's lifetime. However, an anonymous donor helped established the Kelso Facility Dog Endowment to pay for the three dogs' training and help the hospital secure them.

Read more: Newsweek »

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