Pets can bring such joy and happiness to everyone they meet. There’s something very special about the love and comfort that a pet can provide, even in just a matter of minutes meeting them. Naturally, dogs and cats can lift you up and help provide hope even when you least expect it. Because of this, hospital therapy dogs are used in communities across the globe to help support those that need it most. Fortunately, we learned about the work of the hospital therapy dog team Bailey Doodle and Charlie and wanted to share their story. Read on to learn more about they got their start and the impact that hospital therapy dogs can have on the human-pet bond.
Hospital therapy dogs: Meet Bailey Doodle and Charlie
Bailey and Charlie are Australian Labradoodles. Bailey is nine and Charlie (actual name is Charlotte) is five.
How did you get started as a therapy dog team in hospitals?
Funny how we got started!
We had just gotten Bailey, and I was training him as a puppy. I had him at an outdoor mall and was having people give him treats and practice commands with distractions. He was about 4 months old. A couple came up and saw how smart he was and how good he was with all the strangers, and they suggested it.
We don’t have kids, so we didn’t get involved in the things that a lot of people do for volunteer work like PTA, sports, Scouts, etc., so we would buy raffles and donate money to charities. Although, it’s not the same thing as doing it yourself. We thought about it, and this seemed like a great way to give back directly and do something as a family.
With that, I did some research as to what was involved with becoming a therapy dog, and off we went.
It’s a bit of a process, as the pup does have to be fairly well trained, able to work in different environments, and be around many different kinds of people. Bailey primarily visits Northwell Health’s Cohens Children’s Hospital.
The kids he sees tend to have some of the more serious issues. Because he is non-shedding and hypoallergenic, he is perfect for them. That also means that his training has to be a bit tighter than normal.
For example, things like not eating food off of the floor, no jumping, no licking, and ensuring he’s not too excited but engaging enough to hold the kid’s attention. He’s turned out to be perfectly suited for what he does. As if he was born into it.
What are some of the benefits of a therapy dog?
Some of the benefits are obvious and some less so.
The first thing you see is a huge smile on a kid’s face. A smile that may not have been there for days.
We had one small girl who was maybe three, who had had a procedure done and was in bed and refused to get out. The nurses were trying to get her to walk around, but she refused. Her mom couldn’t do it, and her dad couldn’t either. They said she moped for four days. They could not get her to walk around, but it was good for her recovery to move.
Bailey and I walked into her room, and as soon as she saw Bailey, her face lit up.
Bailey does a lot of tricks. For example, he can high five, wave hello, play patty cake, beg, balance things on his nose and head, balance food on his nose and flip it and catch it, walk on his hind legs—but what got her was that he can dance. He dances on his hind legs and even does the cha-cha. She saw him dance and she started laughing. Then she got up in her bed and started dancing herself. THEN she jumped out of bed and started dancing WITH him. The room started crying, literally.
I didn’t know everyone was crying, but after the visit, the nurse told the story of how she wouldn’t get out of bed for four days then in one minute she was dancing with Bailey. She danced with him for five minutes and even walked him down the hall and back a few times. So you can see how that is an obvious benefit. Just the joy they bring to the people they meet.
Therapy dogs benefit people in less obvious ways too. They may help lower blood pressure, decrease pain, decrease stress, help with rehab, and a host of other things. Also, many hospitals have recognized the benefits and now have resident therapy dogs.
Photo credit: Baileydoodle
What inspires or motivates your work?
We do this as volunteers, so we really don’t see it as work at all. Bailey goes and gets cuddles and treats while he is doing his visits, so although he is “working,” I would take that job any day of the week.
What motivates us to do it? The looks on the faces of the people we meet. Knowing that at a point in their lives when they’re going through something, we can be a bright spot for at least a short time that Bailey and Charlie are with them. Maybe even help them to take their minds off of their troubles for a few minutes, and if it helps their recovery, then it’s a bonus.
How can anyone benefit from a therapy dog?
Therapy dogs are different from emotional support dogs in that they are for someone ELSE’s comfort as opposed to an emotional support dog, who is for YOUR comfort. So anyone can benefit from having one by being able to volunteer and experience the joy of sharing their pup with others who might benefit from the experience.
The benefit you would get is knowing you’re helping someone else and that you are giving your pup a purpose beyond being an amazing pet.
What do Bailey Doodle and Charlie like to do for fun?
Bailey and Charlie are quite the busy pups, ha. We live in NY just outside of the city so we spend a lot of time in the city. We love finding dog-friendly places.
They LOVE to travel. They have been all over the country from Oregon to San Diego to Florida to Maine and most points in the middle, ha. Also, they’ve dined in black-tie New Year’s Eve parties, stayed at Presidential Suites in hotels, and then rolled in the sand on a beach.
They just love exploring. Whether it’s a thousand miles away or running in a park or the surf at the beach. As long as we are all together, they are happy.
Any organizations, causes, or projects you’re currently involved in?
We try to support causes that we believe in. After Hurricane Harvey, we raised money to buy 6,000lbs of food for displaced pups in Florida, and we drove it down to Orlando. Then we worked at the Red Cross for the week we were there, visiting the workers and trying to raise their spirits.
We always try to support things like Foster Dogs, NY Blood Center, and the Ronald McDonald House.
Photo credit: Baileydoodle
Hospital therapy dog team Bailey and Charlie help spread happiness to all they meet
Whether Bailey and Charlie are volunteering at a hospital, charity, or community event, they love interacting with all the people that they meet.
From coast-to-coast, the hospital therapy dog team of Baileydoodle enjoys spreading happiness, smiles, and cuddles wherever they go.
is a digital content writer and editor for Trupanion. She spends her workday writing for the Trupanion blog. She loves writing about pets, being inspired by pets, and luckily gets to hang out with her rescue dogs all day long. In her free time, she enjoys exploring and traveling with her family. Her work has been featured on the DOGTV blog, KitNipBox blog, Get Your Pet blog, Fansided, among many others.