Puppy Love

therapy dogs Sansa and Sven

Facility dogs provide comfort and affection to patients

Children’s Nebraska welcomed a new member to its staff last fall. She is a cream-colored Goldendoodle named Sansa.

Sansa joins her facility dog counterpart Sven, a golden retriever, in helping to provide unique, specialized therapy to young patients at the hospital. Both canines assist certified Child Life specialists in offering support, comfort and normalization in the hospital setting, as well as various therapeutic interventions. Child Life specialists help patients and families address the emotional and developmental aspects of a child’s hospital visit and prepare them for certain procedures. Sansa works alongside specialist Debbie Snyder, and Sven assists specialist Britta Carr. Like many full-time employees, they work 40 hours a week — and meet infection control guidelines. “These dogs provide so much love and affection to children who need it most,” Carr says. “They light up every room they enter.”

The interaction with a certified therapy dog can have a positive impact on children’s quality of life, making them feel more relaxed and less anxious, and even enhancing recovery following a serious illness. Besides offering an emotional boost, among the dogs’ responsibilities are demonstrating positioning for certain procedures, such as how and where to lie down during a CT scan.

Sansa, whose first day on the job was Nov. 12, comes to Children’s with a year and a half of training in medical and service settings, while Sven has been on staff since November 2016. Canine Assistants of Georgia trained both dogs.

DOG DAYS Learn more about Child Life specialists and the pet therapy program, and watch a video featuring Sven at Child Life.

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