August 26, 2020
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is now using a two-year-old, yellow Labrador to help ease the anxiety and stress of young patients and their families.
CHOP formally introduced Dilly, its first full-time, trained facility dog, on Wednesday in celebration of National Dog Day.
Facility dogs are trained to help calm children during medical interventions. They also can help teach children how to take a pill and give them extra incentive to get out of bed and go for a walk.
CHOP already has furry visitors thanks to the Gerald B. Shreiber Pet Therapy Program, which brings in therapy dogs to spend time with patients. But Dilly's role will be different than the social-oriented visits of the other canines.
As a full-time facility dog, Dilly will work directly with a CHOP staff member on specific goals and will help during physical, occupational and speech therapy sessions. He also will join certain procedures.
Dilly was raised and trained by Susquehanna Service Dogs, a Keystone Human Services program that raises, trains and places service dogs and hearing dogs. It also raises facility dogs to help children and adults with disabilities become more independent.
Lisa Serad, program coordinator for the Gerald B. Shreiber Pet Therapy Program, said Dilly will be "a wonderful tool" to CHOP's physical, occupational and speech therapists.
"There are so many times we knock on a patient's door and the patient simply glows when they see a dog," Serad said. "It makes it so much easier to build rapport and motivate many of our patients with a furry four-legged partner."
Serad is among four CHOP staffers who completed extensive training with Dilly at Susquehanna Service Dogs before his arrival at the hospital. Elizabeth Olsen, a certified child life Specialist at CHOP, is Dilly's primary handler.
Dilly's placement at CHOP is funded by Dunkin'Joy in Childhood Foundation and the Hope in the Air Foundation. In 2019, the two foundations gave the hospital funding to establish a facility dog program.
Here are a couple pictures of Dilly in his new role: