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Texas Children’s Welcomes Second Therapy Dog

The Pawsitive Play Program at Texas Children’s continues to expand! Visitors are likely to notice not one, but two furry four-legged employees around the hospital.

Thanks to a generous gift from President and CEO Mark A. Wallace and his wife, Shannon, a second therapy dog joined the Child Life team in February 2018. Bailey is an almost-two-year-old golden retriever who wears a green vest and a Texas Children’s badge with a red bow attached. Joining Elsa, who became our first therapy dog in October 2016, Bailey began walking the halls and immediately putting smiles on the faces of patients, families and employees.

Elsa and Bailey are 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.

The Wallaces made their very special gift in memory of their dog, Cadence.

“Shannon and I were very attached to Cadence, our beloved black lab who brought us so much joy before she passed away,” Mr. Wallace said. “We saw what a positive impact Elsa has made on our patients and their families, and we knew that the addition of a new therapy dog would allow even more of our patients, employees and staff — especially those in our new Legacy Tower — to benefit from the Pawsitive Play Program.”

Adair Galanski, a Child Life specialist and Bailey’s handler, collaborates every day with medical teams and physical and occupational therapists to visit with five to ten patients who are having a particularly difficult time during their hospitalization. Bailey was specially trained to work with patients who are very sick. She is seeing heart and critical care patients and was hired on to work specifically in the new Legacy Tower.

“We go and see families for a lot of different things, whether it’s medical procedures, emotional support or maybe something even more complicated than that,” said Galanski. “The minute Bailey comes through the door, everything changes for a child who is in pain or a family who might be struggling with devastating news. They say, ‘Oh my gosh! is that a dog? Is it here to see me? That’s amazing!’”

Bailey’s first stop when she came to work at Texas Children’s was a meeting with Mr. Wallace, who greeted her as he does every new employee — with the warmest welcome, encouragement, and motivation to succeed in helping patients and their families. As soon as he laid eyes on Bailey, he knew she was a perfect fit for Texas Children’s.

“Bailey, you come from a good family and now you’ve got a great family here at Texas Children’s,” Wallace said. “We’re going to take good care of you, and you’re going to help our patients feel better, relax, and feel loved and nurtured. You’re an important part of this one amazing team that we have at Texas Children’s.”