Hospital dogs making ‘pawsitive’ impact on pediatric patients

DOWNTOWN CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) — Friday, June 25 is National Take Your Dog to Work Day, but some professionals have their hard-working pups at work every day — for a good cause.

“Baskin is one of our hospital dogs and that’s why he helps me do my job every day. We help with emotional support for kids, help reduce the stress and anxiety of the hospital and make it a little bit more normal for them, so he helps kids walk again after surgery,” said Michelle Jeffcoat, Child Life Specialist at MUSC Shawn Jenkins children’s hospital.

Jeffcoat said Baskin helps boost the self-esteem of kids with eating disorders or other things that may be going on in their lives. “Just a kind of normal calming presence to have a dog visit in their bed or when they’re really not feeling well.”

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Baskin, a four-legged co-worker, is one of two hospital dogs at the children’s hospital who never leaves Jeffcoat as she does her rounds every day.

“He gets really excited when he goes into the rooms and comes to work every day; he’s really grown tremendously interacting with kids of all different ages and we’ve only seen his comfort level and confidence grow over the short amount of time he’s had him,” said Jeffcoat.

The two and a half year old Golden Retriever helps patients with a wide variety of things, such as reducing stress, while receiving their medical treatments.

“When a kid plays with a dog, they’re not focused on what their purpose is or how hard the job is,” Jeffcoat said, instead the kids are just excited to see him, “it’s a great partnership to see him.” to play and be a dog and do his normal things and the kid also achieves his goals while working with him too.

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Dogs are friendly and positive by nature, but some children can be a little more hesitant when a large dog enters the hospital room.

“We kind of take it where the child is. When I introduce myself, I often hold him by the door and watch the child react. Some children are ready to run over and want him in their bed or give him a ​big hug and then some kids need some time to get used to him, but we always kind of go with what the kid is feeling,” said Jeffcoat.

Service dogs usually work until about eight or ten years of age.

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