Manage episode 377991218 series 2740268
The relationship between a child and their furry friend is a very special one, especially when that relationship benefits their physical and mental health. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that animal-assisted therapy helps children cope with and heal from health problems. In addition, we know that interacting with a gentle, friendly pet can decrease pain, reduce anxiety, and encourage communication. A new randomized, controlled study is shining a light on the powerful child-canine connection, telling us that twice weekly sessions with a dog and its handler significantly lowers children’s cortisol levels. Here at Children’s Hospital Colorado, we’ve seen that progress happen in real-time with our Medical Dog Program, and the success of this work is just getting started. “There are those things that you can measure, but then there are the pieces about just knowing for families or hearing from them they couldn’t have coped with the hospitalization if it wasn’t that Halo was a part of their journey,” says Devin Devlin, a medical dog handler and child life specialist at Children’s Colorado.
Devlin, along with Brianne Newman, another medical dog handler and child life specialist, are our guests on today’s episode. However, for the first time in our Charting Pediatrics’ history, they are joined by two special guests, facility dogs Halo, MD, and Galaxy, MD. You may be wondering: Dogs can become medical doctors?! While that would be awesome, the MD for these two stands for medical dog. Devin is the primary handler for Halo, MD and Brianne is the secondary handler for Galaxy, MD. These two beautiful, fluffy golden retrievers turn 6 on October 1st, 2023.
Devin and Brianne are constantly in awe at the impact these dogs make and are so excited to help share their story with our listeners. One patient even named their newborn baby after Halo! They say being on the end of their leashes as they change kids’ lives is a sheer privilege. “I’m going to get a little choked up when I say this because the kids here are so brave, and so getting to watch them, what they go through and what they’re able to accomplish is just incredibly rewarding,” Brianne says.
Some highlights from today’s episode include:
- A day in the life of a medical dog handler and their facility animal
- Examples of positive health outcomes for patients
- The training that goes into the work of a medical dog
- How these canines get their creative names!
For more information on Children's Hospital Colorado, visit: childrenscolorado.org