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Putting your money where the miracles are: Facility Dogs

Being hospitalized can be scary. Especially for kids. But for Madelyn O’Brien and her family, it was made much easier thanks to a four-legged member of the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department – facility dog, Huggie.

HUggie, a black lab and UC Davis Health facility dog, with a male nurse in the cancer center.
UC Davis Health facility dog, Huggie, comforts pediatric cancer patients during treatment.

The trouble for Madelyn began in utero. She was diagnosed with cancer and born with a tumor on her spine. She was just four days old when she had the first of several surgeries at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

Then came treatment. Madelyn and her parents spent months away from their Chico home while she fought through four rounds of chemotherapy.

Thanks to the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, children and families get much needed support during their stay. This department is funded, in part, by donations to Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) at UC Davis. So are a variety of programs designed to reduce anxiety and promote effective coping for children and their families.

One of these programs involves Huggie, provided by Canine Companions for Independence free of charge. The first-ever facility dog at UC Davis Health, Huggie helps kids like Madelyn who are treated at the Pediatric Infusion Center. Huggie’s presence helps makes the treatment area feel more normal. He also helps lessen the stress or pain pediatric patients may experience. Huggie also provides families and the care team with much needed comfort.

The facility dog program has been very successful; so much so that another facility dog will soon join the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department team. Donations will continue to fund this program and care for these amazing animals. Show your support by donating today.