UC Davis Children’s Hospital welcomes new facility dog Daniels (video)

UC Davis Children’s Hospital welcomes new facility dog Daniels (video)

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The newest employee at UC Davis Children’s Hospital doesn’t wear scrubs or use a stethoscope. 

He comes to work with a wet nose and a wagging tail to do a job only a canine can! Facility Dog Daniels works in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) to help calm, comfort and motivate young patients going through medical procedures and long hospital stays. 

Daniels with his handler, Kristen Cady, who is a child life specialist who works in the UC Davis Pediatric and Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (PICU/PCICU).

Daniels was provided free of charge by Canine Companions, a national nonprofit that provides expertly trained service dogs to adults, children and veterans with disabilities, and to professionals working in medical, rehabilitation, physical therapy and other settings. Daniels joins three other Canine Companions facility dogs who work at UC Davis Children’s Hospital— Huggie, Paloma and ZeeBee. The program was initially supported by Children's Miracle Network donations. The dogs are now funded by the Child Life Facility Dog Program Fund. 

Facility Dog Daniels, a two-year old yellow Labrador Retriever, knows more than 40 commands. His training enables him to calm and motivate young patients who face big challenges. 

Daniels and his handler, Child Life Specialist Kristen Cady, graduated from Canine Companions intensive Team Training course in April. Since then, they’ve brought love and light to hospitalized children. Daniels’ sweet personality and calm demeanor are perfect for the PICU. He is always willing to lean in for a hug and is very gentle when he climbs in bed for cuddles. 

“Daniels has been a wonderful addition to the PICU! We’ve had some great interactions and I am sure there will be many more to come,” Cady said. 

Recently, Daniels and Cady partnered with the UC Davis physical therapy team to support a child who hesitated to get up and move around. But after a game of ‘hide and seek’ with Daniels, the boy moved more confidently and wanted to take charge of walking his new four-legged friend. 

Daniels joins a patient in the PICU playroom at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

“By the end, he was smiling and interacting with Daniels, his nurse and myself,” Cady said. 

Daniels also provides procedural support, helping children to cope successfully through what can be quite stressful experiences. He also supports parents, offering comfort as they await their child’s return from a surgery or begin to process a new diagnosis. 

“The presence of Daniels has brought moments of joy and stress relief for the PICU staff, and we are excited about all of the ways he will continue to benefit our entire unit. Daniels has already made such an impact at the hospital, and we can’t wait to see all he does in the future!” Cady said.