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Doggie Brigade

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Our teams have been chosen and the application process is closed. Please check back in January, 2019.

Since 1992, the Doggie Brigade™ has brought joy, comfort and sloppy kisses to patients at Akron Children's Hospital. These four-legged volunteers tour the hallways, visit patients in their rooms and stop in the activity rooms to see children who are well enough to be out of bed. There are innumerable stories about how the dogs bring comfort during hospital stays which can be disruptive and scary for patients and their families.

Patients often report that for the duration of their 5-10 minute visit, they forget about their illness or pain and feel like a kid.  The involvement of the dogs is also attributed to lower blood pressure, lower stress, increased patient compliance with treatments and increased rapport with staff and their environment.


Doggie Brigade - dog with boy

Does your dog have what it takes to become a Doggie Brigade member?  

All dogs must pass a thorough veterinary exam and behavioral screening process, be at least a year old, and have lived with their handler for at least 6 months to be accepted into the program.

We accept applications for new teams in January, and screenings are done once a year in March.

Once accepted into the Brigade, the dogs and their owners earn volunteer credit for their visits to the hospital. Doggie Brigade teams must commit to at least 26 hospital visits per year. Akron campus teams are also required to participate in 2 special events annually. Doggie Brigade members are registered by the Pet Partners Program.

Historical photo of Doggie Brigade

The Doggie Brigade History

The Doggie Brigade originally started with 8 handlers, who were permitted to visit one floor during a 2-hour block with only 1 dog at a time.

After the first year, the entire hospital was approved for visits except Oncology, Emergency, pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), Surgery Pre-Op/Phase I, MRI/X-Ray, food and medication preparation areas.  Now, the in-patient floors, Oncology, Emergency, PICU permit teams and Dialysis have an open invitation for the Doggie Brigade to visit. The program is sponsored by Milk-Bone.

Doggie Brigade canine with patient

Did you know?

  • Akron Children’s has welcomed 311 Doggie Brigade dogs since 1992.
  • Today there are 80 Doggie Brigade dogs, with service ranging from 12 years to 1.
  • With 25 years of service and an original program member, Bernie Schwartz is the longest-serving Doggie Brigade handler.
  • The original dogs used to wear special T-shirts and kerchiefs. Today, the dogs still proudly wear their kerchiefs.