PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A special shoutout for our four-legged friends on this National Dog Day, established to celebrate all breeds and recognize the number of dogs that need to be rescued. They’re our beloved family members and millions of dogs are working in a variety of jobs. One good boy is on the job at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Dilly is a 2-year-old labrador who’s described as a critical part of the treatment team at CHOP, and for National Dog Day, he was busy at work with the kids.
Dilly is a welcome visitor for 5-year-old Khurram.
Dilly is the first full-time facility dog at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“He brings a lot of joy to people and happiness,” Elizabeth Olsen, a child life specialist at CHOP, said, “and he’s very calming. We’re just so grateful to have him here at the hospital.”
Dilly lives with Olsen. They’re among the essential few allowed in the hospital now because of pandemic precautions.
“Our volunteer program has been just put on hold right now for the safety of everybody,” Olsen said.
Safety is paramount with the dog interactions that provide a number of therapeutic benefits, including easing anxiety.
“Some of the kids just really need a good cuddle with him,” Olsen said, “and he’ll take a nap in their bed and just kind of like snore a little and some of the kids say that was the best part of my day.”
It’s not just comfort. Facility dogs can also be instructive.
“There are children that don’t speak that often or speak really at all and they’ve actually said, ‘hi, dilly,’ when he walks in the room,” Olsen said, “so that’s been really encouraging and just inspiring to see.”
He’s not just helpful for the patients, Dilly also brings smiles to the staff.
“I think having Dilly here is just a nice distraction for everyone and he brings lots of comfort and support so we’re really grateful to have the opportunity to do that,” Olsen said.
CHOP says facility dogs like Dilly are goal-oriented and often used during physical and occupational therapy sessions to help children move and learn with new tasks.