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'Olaf' is playing an important role at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital

The 5-year-old Labrador helps ease anxiety for children undergoing treatment and recovering.

TACOMA, Wash. — The Child Life Services team at Tacoma's Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital has unleashed a heartwarming addition to their Child Life Services Team.  

Olaf, a 5-year-old Labrador, plays an important role on campus.  

Kristen Bishop works along side her trusty companion to care for children and ease anxiety.  

“Olaf is quite literally a gift to all of us,” Bishop said. 

Olaf is a well-trained, certified facility dog who completed an intense two-year accredited program with Canine Companions for Independence — a nonprofit that provides expertly-trained service dogs to people with disabilities and to professionals in healthcare settings, free of charge. 

Bishop and Olaf have spent several years working together and are in demand for many children who are undergoing various treatments. 

"The use and inclusion of Olaf provides motivation, encouragement, support and comfort to our patients," Bishop said. "He knows more than 40 commands that we use in our daily interactions with the kids we serve." 

Olaf is prepared to make treatments a game, such as “Finish your medicine before Olaf.”  

Mary Bridge does feature numerous therapy dogs, but Olaf is uniquely trained as a facility dog and is directly involved in patient care, treatments, and clinical support.  

“It might be a tough day with chemo or a series of shots that a little one faces and Olaf is able to provide the perfect distraction,” Bishop said.  

Olaf plays fetch with staff and patients and even has his own shirt some patients wear. 

On Tuesday, he received a custom bandana with his name on it that was made by a 12-year-old cancer patient.  

“I love watching the demeanor of kids and families change immediately when Olaf and I walk in to the room together," Bishop said.

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