Kids Meet Dogs Who Understand Them

"Best Friends Bash” gives pediatric patients a chance to meet canines with similar conditions.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Penn Vet team up to pair craniofacial patients with therapy dogs affected by similar problems.  A unique opportunity, this meaningful partnership allows children not only to experience to interact with therapy dogs, but also to see the dogs and understand how they have adapted.

“It was incredibly powerful watching these remarkable kids interact with these remarkable dogs,” says John Lewis, VMD, Associate Professor of Dentistry and Oral Surgery at Penn Vet. “These canine patients serve as specialized therapy dogs, so children can really relate to them. Since both the dogs and children are dealing with the same problems and treatments, there’s an instant bond that allows the children to realize they are not alone.”

During the event, CHOP patients had the opportunity to interact with four Penn Vet patients:

Lentil, a French Bulldog puppy who had surgery to repair his cleft palate.

Lentil the French Bulldog Photo Courtesy Penn Vet

Georgia, a Gordon Setter who had a cancer removed from her upper jaw.

Georgia, Gordon Setter. Photo courtesy Penn Vet

Buddy, a Golden Retriever who had part of his lower jaw removed.

Buddy Golden Retriever. Photo courtesy Penn Vet

Rosie, a Golden Retriever therapy dog who had part of her foot removed due to a tumor, and is a member of CHOP’s Paw Partners pet therapy team.

Rosie, Golden Retriever. Photo courtesy Penn Vet

“Craniofacial problems are complex medical conditions that can also negatively impact children’s feelings about themselves,” says Scott P. Bartlett, MD, Chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery at CHOP. “Despite this, our patients show great resilience and strength. They strive to return normalcy to their lives — often while coping with major surgeries and other therapies throughout their childhood and adolescence. Events like this are a great opportunity for these children to see how dogs affected by similar problems have adapted.”

Clinicians and nurses from CHOP’s Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Penn Vet’s dentistry and oral surgery team, were also able to discuss cases and learned from each other’s techniques.

The Best Friends Bash was funded by a grant from Penn’s Center for Human Appearance.

Article Categories: