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Canine Programs

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Resident Canine Therapy

At Rady Children’s Hospital, we believe in the power of furry friends to soothe during challenging times—and canine therapy supports our team of experts in delivering the best that pediatric medicine has to offer. Playing an important role in comprehensive treatment and care for the whole child, canine therapy enriches the patient experience with joy and companionship and enhances healing with proven therapeutic benefits.

Rady Children’s Resident Canine Therapy integrates canine therapy into children’s treatment plans to support progress and improve outcomes. Provided by full-time, certified therapists and professional, clinically trained dogs, this therapy:

  • Reduces pain, fear, anxiety and stress during a hospital stay, scary procedure or after a traumatic event
  • Motivates, inspires confidence and boosts morale of child, family members and care team, encouraging communication and supporting coping and progress toward treatment goals
  • Soothes feelings of loss and loneliness and offers unconditional love and acceptance through physical contact and soft touch

New to Rady Children’s, Resident Canine Therapy builds on the capacity and impact of our longtime Volunteer Canine Program with the addition of professional dog and therapist teams. Officially launching on June 5, 2024, through the Working Fur Kids Giveathon, the development of Resident Canine Therapy will strengthen the healing experience and bring comfort and hope to more local children.

You can help enhance care for the whole child when you make a gift to support Resident Canine Therapy at Rady Children’s.

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Volunteer Canine Program

Rady Children’s Hospital’s Volunteer Canine Program spreads smiles and joy to children spending time in the hospital and helps reduce the stress of childhood illness and hospitalization.

Through short visits to patient rooms by friendly, calm dogs and their volunteer handlers, young patients can pet, hug, and spend time with furry four-legged friends as a part of their healing journey. The program brings comfort and hope to children and their families, including a sense of home for those missing their own pet dogs.

Rady Children’s Hospital has canine volunteers of all sizes and a variety of breeds as part of this program. Each dog is escorted through the hospital by its handler/owner along with a volunteer escort. Social visits usually last about five minutes and take place with the consent of the patient, parent/guardian, and medical staff.

Along with decreasing stress, these visits:

  • Provide warmth, comfort, and a sense of familiarity
  • Offer “normal life” experiences
  • Provide a distraction from pain, medical treatments, and daily hospital routines
  • Encourage interaction and communication
  • Bring laughter and smiles

Due to the overwhelming interest in our program and the very low attrition rate, we are not accepting applications at this time.

In the News

Video: See Our Amazing Canine Volunteers Soothe Children at Our Covid Vaccine Clinic