Hospital dogs making ‘pawsitive’ impact on pediatric patients

Local News

DOWNTOWN CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Friday, June 25th is National Bring Your Dog to Work Day, but some professionals have their hard-working pups at work every day – for a good cause.

“Baskin is one of our hospital dogs and so he helps me do my job every day. We help with emotional support for kids, help reduce the stress and anxiety of the hospital, and to make it a little bit more normal for them, so he helps get kids walking after surgery,” said Michelle Jeffcoat, child life specialist at MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital.

Jeffcoat said Baskin helps with raising self-esteem for kids who have eating disorders, or other things that may be going on in their lives. “Just kind of a normal calming presence to have a dog come visit them in their beds or when they’re really not feeling good.”

Baskin, a four-legged coworker, is one of two hospital dogs at the Children’s Hospital who never leaves the side of Jeffcoat as she makes her rounds each day.

“He gets really excited when he goes in the rooms and comes to work every day; he’s really grown a lot in being interactive with kids of all different ages and we’ve seen his comfort level and just his confidence grow throughout this short time of having him,” said Jeffcoat.

The two-and-a-half-year-old Golden Retriever helps patients with a wide range of things like reducing stress, while they receive their medical treatments.

“When a kid is playing with a dog, they’re not focused on what their goal is or how hard the work is,” said Jeffcoat, instead the children are just excited about seeing him, “it’s a great kinda collaboration to get him to play and be a dog and get to do his normal things and the kid is also meeting their goals, while they’re working with him, too.”

Dogs are naturally pleasing and positive, but some children can be a little more hesitant when a big dog enters the hospital room.

“We kind of take it where the kid is at. A lot of times when I introduce myself I kind of keep him back at the door and kind of see how the child reacts. Some kids are ready to run over and want him right in their bed or give him a big hug and then some kids take some time to get used to him, but we always kind of go with what the child is feeling,” said Jeffcoat.

Service dogs usually work until about eight or ten years.

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