When Bob Holbert met Joan just after he ended his service in the army in 1952, their love story began.

Together they raised four children and worked hard to provide for their family and improve their community. 

One Christmas Eve, Bob brought home a special gift for the young family—a puppy.

“I had it all set up in a box by the Christmas tree,” Bob remembers fondly. “But he busted through the paper. He was so excited to meet the kids and the kids were just as excited to meet him.”

But it was Joan who felt a strong bond with their new family member. One that would give her a new purpose and goal—to help others find a deep connection with dogs when they’re in their greatest time of need through animal therapy and service training.

“Joan was just great with any dog,” Bob says. “She was a great trainer and would take our dog to shows. Anything she did she was good at, and training dogs was no different.”

She helped countless patients find a connection as she trained dogs to be service animals and also brought them to local hospitals to lift the spirits of patients.

In 2012 Joan passed away, but her legacy lives on. Bob wanted to be sure she was remembered in the community and to find a way to help others in the same way Joan did. 

He’s helping the kids and families of Cincinnati Children’s by donating a significant gift from his estate to our dog therapy program. His generosity will ensure that those in our care receive the gift of calm that sometimes only our furry friends can provide. He’s also naming a new patient room in Joan’s memory in our new Critical Care Building.

“She was the greatest love of my life,” Bob says. “I’m so glad we’re able to share that spirit with the kids and families at Cincinnati Children’s.”