A Day in the Life of a Pet Therapy Dog

Published on in Children's View

Tarot Pet Therapy programTarot, an 18-month-old Rhodesian Ridgeback, is one of the 53 dogs in the Gerald B. Shreiber Pet Therapy Program. This is a day in his life — in his own words.

5:55 a.m.

Quick run with my sister, Rumor. (She’s a CHOP therapy dog, too, semi-retired.) My owner, Lisa, says, “Everything is Tarot’s favorite thing,” but running is absolutely my all-time favorite thing!

6:05 a.m.

Breakfast — yum!

6:45 a.m.

Bath time — yuck!

7:45 a.m.

We’re going for a RIDE! I sit in the backseat with my head out the window. Yeah!

8:45 a.m.

We head up to Lisa’s office. She has a meeting — she runs the Pet Therapy Program — so she gives me a Kong toy with biscuits inside to keep me busy.

9:30 a.m.

Lisa lets me out of my crate so that I can have a sniff around. I don’t find any tissues (my favorite!), but the paintings in the corner smell yummy …

9:43 a.m.

I scratch at the door. I am ready to go!!

10:20 a.m.

First stop: 9 South. The doctors and nurses are just as excited to see me as the kids are! “The dogs are here for everyone,” Lisa always says. She’s right: I am happy to see everyone.

10:45 a.m.

A little boy takes my picture and plays “Who Let the Dogs Out” on some kind of machine. I am not sure what to think of that thing, so I give it a good long sniff, and the boy laughs. I think he likes me!

10:50 a.m.

Some of the kids show Lisa and me pictures of their dogs and cats. The hospital can be a scary place, and I know that playing with me makes kids feel better when they are missing their pets!

11:46 a.m.

Potty break.

12:35 p.m.

Lisa shares her chicken salad sandwich. It’s pretty good, but my favorite is roast beef and provolone.

1:10 p.m.

A little girl climbs out of her wheelchair so that she can sit next to me. She seems sad at first, but she laughs really hard when I do my tricks! (I can sit up like a chipmunk, and I’m learning to roll over, too!)

1:45 p.m.

I do a quick check of the hallway outside the Newborn/Infant ICU. (There are never any squirrels, but I always look for them.) A bunch of people stop to pet me. They say that hanging out with me makes them feel better. And lots of scientists who know about these things say the work I do is pretty important!

2:25 p.m.

A lady scratches my ears and asks, “What happened to your head, honey?” Lisa explains that the lump on my head is a birthmark. It’s one of the things that makes me special! I also have a birthmark between my eyes, and I had to wear doggie braces to fix my overbite. I didn’t like those one bit, so I ate them!

3:05 p.m.

How cool: Someone hung Rumor’s trading card in the Pediatric ICU. (She’s pretty popular.) We visit with a couple of kids and their nurses, and I get in a few more snuggles. I love to climb up on the kids’ beds, but Lisa says we have to ask first.

5:10 p.m.

Home. Time to wrestle with Rumor!

6:00 p.m.

Dinner: dog food again. I think about roast beef for a while.

7:15 p.m.

Quick trip to the dog park. I’m taking it a little bit easy because I hurt my paws running around CHOP’s Sea Garden last week. A nurse offered to bandage them for me. How lucky am I to have such good friends?

10:00 p.m.

Bedtime! I hope Rumor doesn’t steal my spot under the fan …