Cincinnati Children’s Welcomes New Facility Dogs to Child Life Team

Monday, March 14, 2016

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center recently welcomed two facility dogs to the Division of Child Life and Integrative Care. The golden retrievers, Drummer and Leica, provide physical and emotional support to patients at Cincinnati Children’s as part of the Animal Assisted Therapy program.

Drummer and Leica are specially bred and trained to work as therapy dogs in a hospital setting. Cincinnati Children’s received the dogs from Canine Assistants, a nonprofit in Milton, GA, that breeds and trains service dogs and has worked with five other pediatric hospitals across the country.

Unlike volunteer dogs that visit the medical center, the facility dogs will be at Cincinnati Children’s every day with their handlers in the Division of Child Life and Integrative Care and will have access to clinics and inpatient units. 

“Drummer comes to work with me every single day. He stays with me throughout the day, and comes home with me at night. And when it’s time for him to retire, he’ll stay with me too,” said Ashley Fiffick, child life specialist, Child Life and Integrative Care. 

In the short time Drummer and Leica have been at Cincinnati Children’s, they have already made significant impacts on patients.

“She was out of it, not happy, and in a lot of pain,” said Leanne Biondo of her daughter Gia, who was inpatient at Cincinnati Children’s for five months. “A few minutes later, Drummer came in and her eyes lit up when he jumped on the bed. Suddenly, that pain was forgotten about. Gia is like a whole new person when Drummer walks in.” 

The dogs can physically interact with patients to provide comfort and love in ways that medical caregivers and therapists cannot. Research shows that dog-assisted therapy can lower stress and anxiety levels, affect blood pressure, increase patient mobility, and provide an alternative focus from pain.   

“My vision is that this is the beginning,” said Sharon McLeod, senior clinical director, Child Life and Integrative Care. “Our dream is that it will grow and we will have more members of our hospital staff that will have beautiful, wagging tails.” 


About Cincinnati Children's

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center ranks third in the nation among all Honor Roll hospitals in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 Best Children’s Hospitals. It is also ranked in the top 10 for all 10 pediatric specialties, including a #1 ranking in pulmonology and #2 in cancer and in nephrology. Cincinnati Children’s, a non-profit organization, is one of the top three recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health, and a research and teaching affiliate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The medical center is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at Connect on the Cincinnati Children’s blog, via Facebook and on Twitter.

About the Division of Child Life and Integrative Care

The Division of Child Life and Integrative Care at Cincinnati Children’s works with inpatients and visiting patients to offer family-centered and holistic care. Child Life specialists are committed to promoting play and providing age-appropriate educational, developmental and psychological support.

Contact Information

Tory Kennedy