Despite Major League Baseball’s All-Star game being in the rear-view mirror, baseball was rockin’ and rollin’ on Thursday, August 1, at “Dog Park” (aka Children’s Medical Center’s Butterfly Atrium). And it literally was going to the dogs.
For the annual celebration by PetSmart Charities, Children’s munchkin patients along with Children’s therapy dogs rounded the bases for home runs.
PetSmart managers Andi Perkins from the Inwood store and Krystal Mocida from the Lakewood store were vets at the annual get-together. The event was a team effort with the therapy dogs being provided thanks to a PetSmart Charities grant and the theme and orchestration of the event being handled by Children’s Child Lifers. For more than 40 years, the Child Life Department says it has “worked alongside the medical staff to ensure a positive experience for our patients and families.”
Throughout the year PetSmart Charities Pet-Assisted Therapy Dog program at Children’s Medical Center helps deliver the comfort of home to patients’ hospital rooms, playrooms and the ambulatory clinic. The power of an animal to promote positive coping in an unfamiliar or even scary environment during challenging situations is amazing. The goal for Children’s Medical Center Foundation is to build a $5M endowment “to sustain the program in perpetuity.”
But on this day, it was strictly kids, fun and hot dogs.
Some like Miguel hit all the bases toting IV’s, and others like Bentley made the rounds being chauffeured in red wagons. At one point players threw balls at virtual batters on screen and compared notes with former Rangers David Hulse and Justin Ruggiano.
In the stands were stuffed dogs all ready to be adopted by the kids. In one corner of the room popcorn was being bagged and handed out non-stop.
It was the perfect opportunity to wear something other than traditional hospital attire. Matthew was dressed from head to toe in a dog robe… The hot-dog look was definitely in with both Brittany Herring and five-year-old Golden Doodle Badger, dressed in a hot-dog costume near the concession stand that provided ice cream and edible dogs. Everybody wanted a photo with a two-legged and a four-legged dog!
New to the PetSmart team was rookie Corkweenie (Chihuahau, Yorkie and Dachshund) Jake, who made a great showing as the smallest team player to the delight of brothers eight-year-old Juan and 12-year-old Aaron. Aussie Cookie proved to be a pushover for tummy rubs. Her coach Robynn Brinkley admitted that “she knows how to get attention and belly rubs and head pats.”
When six-year-old Golden Retriever Van wasn’t working out with David Hulse, he was in a chair at a table with his coach Amanda to score points with 10-year-old Jose.
After hitting all the bases of games and activities, the little players headed to a table commandeered by Child Lifers Jensen Anderson and Paige Goodman for their final take-home prize of the day.
As one event vet put it, “It’s summertime and the annual event provides a break for the patients, as well as the staff, to celebrate the dog days of summer.”