"Now more than ever, people are turning to pets for comfort and companionship.”

By Meghan Overdeep
August 14, 2020
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Squid Facility Dog Vanderbilt Children's
Credit: Donn Jones/Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt

Introducing Squid, the handsome new facility dog spreading joy at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee.

Squid, a two-year-old black Labrador/Golden Retriever mix, arrived at the hospital shortly before COVID-19 struck. A Canine Companions for Independence graduate, he has undergone extensive and highly specialized training for the last two years. As such, Squid can perform more than 40 commands designed to “motivate and inspire patients to obtain treatment goals.” This four-legged essential worker also provides comfort and affection to support families and hospital staff experiencing the impact of intense medical situations.

Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt Facility Dog
Credit: Donn Jones/Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt

The Facility Dog Program at Children's Hospital was established through collaboration with Mars Petcare.

"This has been three years in the making," Janet Cross, MEd, CCLS, CPXP, administrative director of Patient- and Family-Centered Care at Children's Hospital, said in a news release. "We have been keeping our fingers on the pulse of what is new and innovative that can be used to engage people in healing. Facility dogs fit that bill for our hospital. There has been a lot of evidence around the effectiveness of facility dogs in the medical setting."

"We have a well-established pet partner program and seeing how successful those teams are at engaging our patients and families … a facility dog will take that engagement to a higher level,” Cross continued. “Squid was bred for this kind of work."

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With hospital visitors limited due to social distancing, Squid arrived just in time to help patients and staff through the stress and uncertainty of this unprecedented time.

"Now more than ever, people are turning to pets for comfort and companionship, and we can't wait to see the positive impact Squid has for the children, families, and staff at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt," Mark Johnson, President of Mars Petcare North America, said in a release. "We're thrilled to partner with the team at Vanderbilt to bring this facility dog program to life."