Texas Children’s welcomes third therapy dog

The hospital’s canine crew now has a male pup joining the team. He has officially been added to the roster as a part of Texas Children’s Pawsitive Play Program that uses animal-assisted therapy to enhance the emotional well-being of pediatric patients by reducing their anxiety, perception of pain and fear of hospitalization.

Pinto is a two-and-a-half-year-old golden retriever who was generously funded through a gift from The Auxiliary to Texas Children’s Hospital, a volunteer led organization that has been providing compassion to patients and their families for over 60 years.

He will be working in Acute Care, including units like Inpatient Rehab, the Emergency Center, and others around the hospital.

Like Elsa and Bailey, Pinto will offer distraction and motivation to patients undergoing certain medical procedures, along with his trusted handler. Shelby Bonnet is a Texas Children’s 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 is looking forward to expanding her role, and transitioning into being the newest therapy dog handler.

“I have been able to see the great work that Sarah and Adair (other therapy dog handlers) have done with Bailey and Elsa,” Bonnet said. “I am really excited to incorporate Pinto into helping patients and families around the hospital.”

As a child life specialist, who worked in the Emergency Center, Bonnet is no stranger to creating a comfortable atmosphere for children in a difficult environment, and Pinto is able to connect with patients in ways that no one else can.

Recently, Pinto took a small tour around the hospital to become more acclimated with patients and his co-workers. Just like any other employee, he was greeted by his fellow co-workers with the warmest welcome, encouragement, and motivation to uphold Texas Children’s mission of creating a healthier future for children and women throughout our global community.

“I expect a lot of promoting some normalization in the hospital,” Bonnet said. “I really hope that Pinto is able to help decrease anxiety, and to be an encouragement during procedures.”

Pinto is a bit larger and a shade or two darker than Bailey and Elsa, so it will be easy to spot him around the hospital. He is still adapting to being in this environment, but feel free to greet him and show that he has all of the love and support from his Texas Children’s family.