It is only right for the newest employees to formally greet the people who had a hand in bringing them on the team. That was the case when Pinto, Texas Children’s newest therapy dog, had his official meet-and-greet with The Auxiliary board members.
On May 17, Pinto arrived in the lobby of Feigin Tower, and immediately received hugs, cuddles and lots of love from The Auxiliary. The group took a photo and then headed into their recurrent meeting.
Pinto was generously funded through a gift from The Auxiliary to Texas Children’s Hospital. They are a volunteer led organization that has been providing compassion to patients and their families for over 60 years.
A year ago, the first therapy dog and her handler attended an Auxiliary board meeting, to enlighten the members about the Pawsitive Play program and its tremendous impact that it has on patient care and experience. The members of the board were so moved that one of them spoke up and asked how the Auxiliary could support the expansion of the program.
“The Auxiliary to Texas Children’s Hospital is thrilled to welcome Pinto to the hospital family,” said Nancy Baycroft, President of the Auxiliary. “His presence throughout the halls of the hospital brings a smile to all of our members, and more importantly to our patients and families.”
Pinto is a two-and-a-half-year-old male golden retriever, and the hospital’s third therapy dog. His job is to enhance the emotional well-being of pediatric patients by reducing their anxiety, perception of pain and fear of hospitalization.
After the meeting was called to order, he and his handler Shelby Bonnet took the floor to introduce themselves. Bonnet spoke about her experience and role as a child life specialist, who collaborates with medical teams and physical and occupational therapists to visit with five to ten patients each day who are having a particularly difficult time during their hospitalization.
She elaborated on the process of becoming a therapy dog handler, as well as what it took to get Pinto to Texas Children’s. Following a few questions from the board members about Pinto’s connection with patients, Bonnet briefly described an incident when Pinto was able to comfort a 12-year-old who was struggling tremendously.
“The moment he got into her bed she had a breakdown,” said Bonnet. “And within 30 minutes she began to become calmer and open up about her fears of being at the hospital.”
The board members reacted with admiration and smiles from ear-to-ear. At that point they knew that Pinto would have the impact on patients that they expected.
“The Auxiliary board feels immense pride when they see the faces of our patients and families light up! Child Life has already shared stories of the impact Pinto has made,” said Baycroft. “Pinto is one of the most meaningful gifts the Auxiliary has given to the hospital.”
Pinto will be working in Acute Care, including units like Inpatient Rehab, the Emergency Center, and others around the hospital, providing distraction and motivation to patients undergoing certain medical procedures, along with his trusted handler.