As Children’s first full-time hospital therapy dog, Casper is at Children’s at Scottish Rite five days a week, sharing hope, happiness and inspiration.
6:30 a.m. – At home, Casper is dressed for work, wearing a vest that reads: "I’m friendly. Ask to pet me.” Lisa Kinsel, manager of Volunteer Services at Children’s at Scottish Rite, explains, “Like all service dogs, when he puts on that vest, he knows it’s time to work.”
7:30 a.m. – In the lobby of Children’s at Scottish Rite, Casper is approached by many people, but doesn’t get overwhelmed. "Casper had 18 months of intensive training, so he’s well prepared for his job,” Kinsel says.
8:02 a.m. – Casper visits common areas and see some patients in their rooms. Casper follows specific hygiene guidelines. All therapy dogs undergo extensive training and follow very specific hospital hygiene guidelines.
8:15 a.m. – Undergoing EEG monitoring in her bed, 12-year-old patient Emily is experiencing some discomfort. When Casper hops on to her bed for a treat and a visit. Emily’s fear is replaced by giggles. "Casper is the only thing that took Emily’s mind off her pain and her problems," says her mother. "It’s amazing to see an animal have such an impact on a child’s well-being and ability to cope."
11:02 a.m. – In the halls, staff members pause to pet Casper and talk about his therapeutic abilities. "He motivates patients in ways we can’t,” says a nurse. "He makes a phenomenal contribution to our patients’ overall social, physical and emotional development.”
11:45 a.m. – In rehabilitation, 8-year-old Jeremy has difficulty moving his arms. But when Casper's guide explains that the dog needs to be brushed, Jeremy reaches out, grasps the brush and slowly strokes Casper’s coat. For Jeremy—and his therapists—this is a real breakthrough.
12:23 p.m. – Casper joins the crowd in the cafeteria for lunch, but never mooches.
2:29 p.m. – In the Trauma Intensive Care Unit (TICU), the staff welcomes Casper with cheers. “Casper’s effect on staff was a big surprise,” Kinsel says. “One nurse told me being with Casper helped her through the loss of a patient. He instantly lifts your spirits, something everyone here appreciates.”
3:41 p.m. – Anna has cerebral palsy—her active mind is tied to machines and her expression is blank. With mom’s approval, Kinsel squirts cheese on Anna’s hand for Casper to lick. A smile spreads across Anna’s face, bringing tears to her nurse’s eyes. "I’ve never seen her smile," the nurse whispers.
4:15 p.m. – Walking through Radiology, Casper attracts more admirers and provides a happy distraction for families. Back in Volunteer Services, he takes a well-deserved rest while Kinsel finishes work.
6:45 p.m. – Arriving home, Kinsel takes off Casper’s vest, transforming him from a dog working to a dog playing. Casper races to the backyard, then wriggles belly-up in the grass. As he burns off his last bit of energy, Kinsel smiles. "Some service dogs are perfect for turning on light switches or helping people with other day-to-day tasks, but Casper’s calling is sharing love and affection. I knew as soon as I met him that he was the perfect dog for Children’s."