On June 22 one of Texas Children’s three therapy dogs, Bailey, celebrated her second birthday. Bailey’s handler, Adair Galanski, and the Child Life department threw a party for her and invited several patients and their families to join the fun.
The celebration was held in the Kid’s Zone, an area on the sixteenth floor of West Tower that provides a fun, safe and procedure-free environment for Texas Children’s inpatient population and their families. Bailey was donated to Texas Children’s Hospital from our President and CEO Mark Wallace and his wife as a gift earlier this year, to offer a distraction and motivation to patients undergoing certain medical procedures.
As soon as patients checked in and walked through the door, Bailey and Galanski were directly across the room for them to pet her, play, and wish her a happy birthday. Bailey was prepped and ready to take pictures in her pink tutu and pink crown with a number two right in the middle.
On top of plenty colorful decorations, there were several areas available for patients to play and engage with each other. There was a station with paper and color pencils so patients could create personalized birthday cards for Bailey, an area where they could paint ceramic dogs to take with them, and a board with baby pictures of all of the therapy dogs so that patients could play a game of guess who is who. With dozens of people coming and going, one of the busiest portions of the party was the doggy corner, where Bailey’s siblings Elsa and Pinto were hanging out and cuddling with patients.
The relationship that Bailey has with patients was extremely evident as they brought gifts of their own to celebrate the occasion. One patient presented her with a hand painted name badge that said “#1 couch potato,” because she calls Bailey her small fry. Another patient also brought her a teddy bear, but what is most important is all the love that was brought to Bailey from all of the children.
“The interactions and the special moments that they spend with Bailey are what means the most,” said Galanski. “If they were nervous about something, or just wanted to come give her a hug because they missed her; those are all the gifts in the world that Bailey needs.”
Another patient ran straight to Bailey in her crown and beautiful pink dress as she was eager to tell her that she was celebrating her birthday as well.
“It’s my birthday and I’m in the hospital,” said the patient. “And it’s your birthday and you’re in the hospital, so we’re the same!”
Parties like these are thrown every year to celebrate the therapy dogs because it is another event that provides normalization.
“That’s what kids get to do outside of the hospital is go to birthday parties for their friends,” said Galanski. “The more that these kids get to know the dogs, the more they become their friend. So why not go to your friend’s birthday.”