Published on in Children's View
Hello. Do you have any peanut butter?
Oh, wait … I’m not supposed to ask that right off the bat.
Hello, I am Dilly — the very first full-time Facility Dog at the nation’s very first children’s hospital. You see the significance there. As a Facility Dog, I’m part of the hospital care team! Working with my handler, Elizabeth*, I help our patients cope with the experiences they encounter at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
A bit about me. I am a 2-year-old Labrador retriever, a breed known for being smart, steadfast and generally adorable.
You think the doctors at CHOP have a lot of training? I started mine the day I was born. Our wonderful puppy cuddlers get us used to sights, sounds and touching from the very start.
I spent my first year mastering basic obedience with my puppy raiser, before I returned to the elite Susquehanna Service Dogs organization to learn the specialized skills I would need in my future career. Not every dog is suited to service work, so I was extremely proud to be selected.
Now I come to CHOP five days a week. Every day is different because I never know who will need me. I might help a child in physical therapy by taking a walk with him. Or a patient might brush me as part of her occupational therapy. Sometimes we play Candy Land — I advise on next moves.
I’ve accompanied kids to procedures to make things less scary. One of my favorite jobs is speech therapy — imagine hearing a child who is re-learning to speak after a brain injury call out, “Hi, Dilly!”
My CHOP colleagues say I somehow know what kids need. We dogs have a special sense for that. I help big people, too. If parents or staff are having a tough day, I stop by for a cuddle. I love my job.
When I’m not working, I live with Elizabeth* — she’s a super-nice human. My other CHOP friends Danielle*, Marissa* and Lisa* also take care of me.
My hobbies: walks along the Schuylkill Trail, napping, playing with my stuffed puppy and savoring treats — especially peanut butter. Speaking of which …
— By SSD Dilly, as told to Helen Corning
*Elizabeth Olsen, MS, CCLS, Advanced Child Life Specialist, Danielle Stewart, BS ESEC, Child Activity Coordinator, Marissa McEneany, BA, CCLS, CPMT, Advanced Child Life Specialist, Lisa Serad, MS, Coordinator, Gerald B. Schreiber Pet Therapy Program