It's no secret that pets make lives happier and healthier, especially in times of uncertainty. For many families, the benefits pets provide will now come at a time and place they may never have expected: during their child's hospital stay in the middle of a pandemic.
Earlier this year, Squid, a Canine Companions for Independence® facility dog, joined the team at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, arriving shortly before COVID-19 impacted the local community. With visitors to the hospital limited due to social distancing measures, Squid arrived on the job just in time to engage with patients and staff through this stressful time of unknowns.
As a Canine Companions certified facility dog, Squid, a 2-year-old black Labrador/Golden Retriever cross, has undergone extensive and highly specialized training for the last two years. Squid can perform more than 40 commands designed to motivate and inspire patients to obtain treatment goals. In addition to engaging patients in their treatment, the dog provides comfort and affection to support families and hospital staff experiencing the impact of intense medical situations.
The Facility Dog Program at Children's Hospital was established through collaboration with Mars Petcare to support a full-time facility dog and a staff position for coordination of the program, with the overall goal of showing the positive impact a facility dog can have on patients, families and staff.