While Children’s Medical Center Dallas may have seemed to have gone to the dogs on Monday, August 6, it was planned. Children’s PetSmart Charities Pet-Assisted Therapy Dog volunteers like Golden Retriever Blair and Portuguese Water Dog Atticus were being feted by volunteers, staffers, patients and fans at the annual Dog Days hosted by PetSmart Charities.
Joining the 10 PetSmart volunteers were Pet Partners like three-year-old Pyrenean Shepherd D’Artagnan (aka D’Arty to his friends) and Ela Zalo.
For PetSmart Central Dallas District Manager Chad Franke, the importance of the dogs in helping youngsters during their hospital stay hit home. Looking at the jammed filled Butterfly Atrium and his volunteers with their canine helpers, he recalled how his own daughter’s stay at Fort Worth’s Cooke Hospital had been made easier thanks to the hospital’s similar program. “They would have the dogs visit the children before surgery and afterwards.”
As for the Franke household, it’s highlighted by a seven-year-old Yorkshire Terrier rescue that they got when Chad was based with Petsmart in Odessa.
The dogs and kids made themselves right at home singing round a faux campfire, palling around with the PetSmart mascot, playing at tables like three-year-old Genesis and finding a tent filled with stuffed animals for the adopting.
The pooches knew no strangers and somehow sought out the kids whether they were anchored to a portable IV or being chauffeured around in wheelchairs.
Across the way, eight-year-old Galya and her mom Ale were shaking paws/hands with two-year-old Australian Shepherd Cookie, that had just recently started volunteering at Children’s with her gal pal Robynn Brinkley. As Galya headed to the archery game, Ale and husband Gabino happily reported that Galya was doing wonderfully and loved seeing the dogs. Did they have a dog at home? There was a slight hesitation as Ale lowered her eyes. Then she looked up and said that they had had a dog that has passed away, while Galya was in the hospital. But they hadn’t told Galya yet. As Ale said looking at her daughter, “That’s why we wanted to bring her, so that she would get comfort.”