Trained ‘Comfort Dog’ Helps Children Overcome Their Fear Of Going To The Dentist

Children have nothing to fear when JoJo is on the job.

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JoJo snuggles young patients getting dental work to help keep them calm. Via JoJo The Comfort Dog/Facebook
John Virata

A visit to the dentist can be challenging for children. While some see the visit as a fun time to get their teeth tickled, others dread it and approach it with trepidation. Dentists and their assistants try all kinds of things to make a child comfortable, but Pediatric Dentistry of Northbrook, just outside Chicago, has kicked it up a notch with JoJo, a trained comfort dog who helps little patients overcome their fears of the dental chair.

JoJo comes into work at the dental office once a month. The 6-year-old Golden Retriever — who was one of the first comfort responders to help students in the aftermath of the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting — makes herself accessible to children at the practice. She usually lies on her patients’ laps while they pet her, JoJo’s handler Lynne Ryan told the Daily Herald.

Ryan came up with the idea of having JoJo help out at the dental office. She is currently the only Golden Retriever with Lutheran Church Charities to comfort patients at a dental practice.

JoJo and the staff at Pediatric Dentistry of Northbrook. Via JoJo The Comfot Dog/Facebook

JoJo and the staff at Pediatric Dentistry of Northbrook. Via JoJo The Comfort Dog/Facebook

“I’ve been working as a handler for five years, and I thought JoJo could really do some good here,” Ryan told the paper.

JoJo has worked with all kinds of children who come to the office for all kinds of work, and is really helpful to children who come in to get cavities filled or teeth pulled, Ryan said.

One patient that JoJo has helped is Sophia Quartararo. Sophia’s mother Mary told the Herald that Sophia has a sensory disorder and had been unsuccessful in getting dental treatment at three different dental practices. One practice suggested that Sophia be put under general anesthesia just to clean her teeth.

JoJo comforts a patient. Via JoJo The Comfort Dog/Facebook

JoJo comforts a patient. Via JoJo The Comfort Dog/Facebook

When Quartararo heard about JoJo the comfort dog helping little patients at Pediatric Dentistry, she and her daughter met with Jojo before scheduling a visit to the dentist. Then, with JoJo’s assistance, Sophia was able to get the dental treatment that she needed.

“My daughter loves animals, and especially dogs,” Quartararo told the newspaper. “She found JoJo to be so patient and loving and caring. JoJo stayed quietly on her lap the whole time, and when Sophia heard a drill or a noise, she’d reach for the dog.”

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  • Dogs are AMAZING!! We humans are so very fortunate to have pets in our lives. They enrich our lives immeasurably and their unconditional love and patience is PRICELESS!! May our Heavenly Father bless ALL animals, their environments and the people who are passionate about them! xo xo xo xo xo xo

    Wendye Kolles May 25, 2016 1:16 am Reply
    • AMEN ! ! !

      lisa May 25, 2016 2:30 am Reply
      • AMEN is right! If only people could be like our pets, the world would be a better place.

        Carol May 25, 2016 2:46 am Reply
      • AMEN and AMEN to God for sending His precious animal to help these children overcome their fears…

        Carol Keegan May 25, 2016 10:37 am Reply
    • Amen, Wendye and Carol!!!

      chidog May 25, 2016 5:31 am Reply
    • You are so right! Animals are a gift from God and deserve all the best of humans! Love you, JoJo!!

      Nini May 25, 2016 12:20 pm Reply
  • our Polly Therapy Dog, spreads so much JOY at assisted living homes here in Kalispell!!She also attends Veterans meeting, Bible studies, church, since loosing her brother to whom she was Very attached. She has Diabetes, so we strive to keep Polly calm!

    Connie Chauvel-Gomez May 25, 2016 1:33 am Reply
  • Why just kids? I hyperventilate on the way to get my teeth cleaned!!!! I’d love it at my dentist’s office!

    Mary May 25, 2016 4:11 am Reply
    • I hyperventilate just making an APPOINTMENT for the dentist 🙂

      Beatrice Ford May 25, 2016 8:09 am Reply
  • Animals are so amazing….

    Diana May 25, 2016 4:26 am Reply
  • What a WONDERFUL idea!! Hopefully it will catch on everywhere, a Comfort Dog at a dentist office would be good for both young and old alike! JoJo, you are one awesome fur kid!!!

    Bonnie Wilson May 25, 2016 6:26 am Reply
  • What a wonderful idea, every dentist’s office should have one. And why not extend it to doctors, cancer center, etc

    gabrielle Granofsky May 25, 2016 6:36 am Reply
  • This dog looks so sweet and his job deserve a lot of respect. I love animals. They are amazing. Thanks you for this lovely story <3

    rosanna May 25, 2016 8:16 am Reply
  • Very moving

    Shirley SWchreier May 25, 2016 8:38 am Reply
  • This adult would like a comfort dog at the dentist. Not just for kids.

    LT51 May 25, 2016 10:30 am Reply
  • What a great idea! I agree, they should have comfort dogs for adults, too…and maybe cats….I hate going to the dentist! I definitely think this idea would help make the situation more tolerable!

    Kimberlydawn May 25, 2016 10:36 am Reply
  • animals are the best!!

    lainer51 May 25, 2016 7:10 pm Reply

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