Now that there are officially two lively golden retrievers walking the halls of Texas Children’s Hospital Medical Center Campus, the Pawsitive Play program has become everything our president and CEO expected and more.
Bailey, the hospital’s newest service dog, was recently welcomed by Mark Wallace and his wife, Shannon. The Wallaces donated Bailey as a gift to Texas Children’s in memory of their beloved dog, Cadence, after making the rounds with the hospital’s first therapy dog, Elsa, and realizing that being a service dog was a lot of work.
“This is a massive organization, and lots of different buildings and hundreds and hundreds of really, really, sick patients,” Wallace said. “So Shannon said we need to sponsor a second Pawsitive Play service dog, and I said OK, let’s do it.”
Their generous pledge and initial $80,000 contribution to the program will enable Texas Children’s to hire more animal-assisted therapy coordinators and therapy dog teams specifically trained to provide therapeutic interventions to patients and families in Legacy Tower.
The Pawsitive Play program began in December 2015 with a generous donation from the Shackouls family.
“It is our hope that the support and love these therapy animals provide will help countless children in making their treatment and recovery journeys brighter,” Bobby and Judy Shackouls said. “We look forward to watching this program grow into something even bigger because every child, no matter their age, gender, background or health condition, deserves to feel the unconditional love and comfort these animals can provide throughout the healing process.”
Bailey, like Elsa and other therapy dogs, offers distraction and motivation to patients undergoing certain medical procedures. However, it’s not just her that aids in this process. Bailey’s handler, Adair Galanski is a Texas Children’s child life specialist who collaborates with medical teams, and physical and occupational therapists to visit with five to 10 patients each day who are having a particularly difficult time during their hospitalization.
“As much as I love my job, and think I’m good at what I do, I can never have that same connection with families that Bailey brings,” Galanski said. “Bailey is that peacemaker and that bridge for us to be able to really connect with kids who might not want to connect through words, but can connect through her.”
Although Bailey has already started seeing heart and critical care patients, she was hired to work specifically in the hospital’s newest expansion, Legacy Tower. The doors of the first phase of Legacy Tower will open to patients, families, and employees like Bailey on Tuesday, May 22.
As soon as the Wallace’s laid eyes on Bailey they knew they had made the right decision and look forward to many more furry friends joining our team in the future.
“These wonderful dogs are adding a lot to the culture of the hospital,” Wallace said.