Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital has welcomed its second facility dog, Pilot, a 2-year-old black lab/golden retriever mix. Pilot will work alongside his canine colleague, Dexter, to assist pediatric patients while they’re in the hospital.
Pilot has undergone extensive training to interact with patients on specific, individual goals. His assigned facilitator, Renee Lee, is a Certified Child Life Specialist and has also received special training to work with Pilot.
“While Pilot loves to do a lot of the things that normal dogs do, he still knows how to be a professional,” said Lee. “He can sit still, follow commands and be gentle with patients. We have already seen him making a difference in the lives and emotions of some of our youngest patients.”
Pilot will have a number of responsibilities – making young patients feel more comfortable in the hospital, serving as a motivator to help patients achieve their goals, and distracting patients during procedures or episodes of pain.
Established in February 2019, the Facility Dog Program at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital aims to advance psychosocial care provided to children during their hospitalizations. Pairing Certified Child Life Specialists with expertly trained dogs, provided free of charge by Canine Companions, these working teams provide support during procedures, encourage ambulation and participation in rehab sessions, provide calm during episodes of pain, engage in play during long or repeated admissions and process new diagnoses and traumas with a furry friend by their side.