Posted: Friday, April 13, 2018 – 4:43 PM
On Wednesday, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) celebrated its Third Annual Dog Therapy Appreciation Day. The date marked a new milestone for the program—three consecutive years of having therapy dogs on duty every single day.
Approximately 43 of the 125 certified dogs in CHLA’s Amerman Family Foundation Dog Therapy Program visited with patients, families and staff at the hospital’s main campus on Sunset Boulevard.
Celebrants took part in arts and crafts activities, enjoyed refreshments, posed in the photo booth with their favorite therapy dogs and took home toys and books.
Dog therapy is more than just a quick belly rub, say Kate Buhrmaster and Dianne Lahti, who run the program. The dogs have undergone extensive training with their owners to be certified and take part in the program.
The arrival of a dog at a patient’s room is often one of the most anticipated parts of a child’s hospital stay, providing an opportunity for a memorable moment during what is usually a challenging time. Dogs often help motivate children during physical therapy, distract them during long or uncomfortable procedures and provide relief for those in pain.
Together, the dog and human volunteers ensure that CHLA has an average of five dogs per day on campus, nearly 1,200 personalized one-on-one patient visits each month, and 73,000 interactions with patients, family members, visitors and staff annually.
The dog therapy program falls under the Pain Management and Palliative Care Program umbrella and is overseen by medical professionals from anesthesiology and critical care medicine.