Grant expands Seattle Children's canine therapy program

Seattle Children's program that partners pets with patients were awarded new grant. Meg Coyle reports.

SEATTLE -- A program that partners pets with patients at Seattle Children's Hospital is getting a big boost. A $157,000 grant from PetSmart raises the number of canine therapy teams at the hospital from nine to 18.

Kids like Oscar get visits from dogs like 5-year-old yellow lab Paddington Bear, or Paddy for short. It gives Oscar a good dose of distraction from the doctors, nurses and needles.

Every day, dogs like Paddy and his handler Christi Dudzik come to the hospital to go on their rounds, not to practice medicine, but compassion. It's a welcome distraction for the patients.

"They're able to focus on something that's lighter of heart and, whenever we're able to do that, I call that respite care. It just gives us a little bit of a break from the concerns and the worries," said Dudzik, who is Seattle Children's Therapy Dog Program Coordinator.

As much as patients like Oscar benefit from a velvety soft and sympathetic ear, the program also supports the supporters.

"Sometimes, the patient is the child and sometimes the patient might be their parent or other loved one. Sometimes the patient might be a staff member who's having a bad day," said Dudzik.


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