Sloppy kisses and wagging tails can really put a smile on a child’s face, especially when they find themselves in the hospital. If you and your dog enjoy interacting with kids, consider joining the Doggie Brigade at Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley.
The Beeghly campus is actively recruiting new canine and human-handler volunteers for the program. Started in 1992, the Doggie Brigade brings joy and comfort to patients by visiting them in their rooms and throughout the hospital.
The mission of the Doggie Brigade is to promote positive human and animal interaction, helping patients forget about their illness or pain and feel like a kid again. Interaction with dogs has proved to ease stress, lower blood pressure and help promote healing.
“Dogs help bring joy and happiness to a child when they’re needed most,” said Pam Moser, Doggie Brigade coordinator at Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley. “We can assure you being involved in this program can be just as rewarding an experience for the volunteer as it is to the child.”
To be a member of the Doggie Brigade, dogs should first and foremost love kids and be comfortable around them. All dogs must be at least 1 year old, have lived with their handler for at least 6 months and pass a thorough veterinary exam and Pet Partner evaluation, where they are screened on aptitude and skills.
A dog should also be well-groomed whenever it comes to the hospital or events, be comfortable on a leash and have a calm personality, not getting startled by commotion or noise.
Once accepted into the program, dogs and their owners earn volunteer credit for their visits to the hospital. Doggie Brigaders are required to do 20-26 hospital visits each year and attend 2 off-site community events, such as book fairs, park events, university dance marathons, school sponsored events or parades.
Here’s how to apply
Does your dog have what it takes? To become a Doggie Brigade member, applicants must complete the Pet Partners registration process, which includes a handler course and evaluation, and then complete a Doggie Brigade application.
Volunteers already registered with Pet Partners must have attained a complex rating and submit a copy of their Team Acceptance Letter with their volunteer application.