Patients, families, and staff at Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai recently celebrated the launch of Paws & Play supported by PetSmart Charities® at a special event in The Child Life Zone. Paws & Play is the first-ever facility dog program in the state of New York.
Headlining the Zone-based event was Professor Bunsen Honeydew, fondly called “Professor,” a golden doodle who is the newest member of the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department. Professor is 18 months old and completed a bond-based training program in preparation to serve as a key member of the Kravis Children’s Hospital’s treatment team. Professor and his primary handler, certified child life specialist Ali Spike, host their very own weekly KidZone TV show in the broadcast studio. One adolescent patient, inspired by her connection to Professor, also created and hosted an original, dog-themed Bingo show with Professor at her side.
During the launch event, the Garth Brooks stage in the Zone featured an array of speakers including leaders from the hospital, PetSmart Charities®, and PetSmart, Inc. Patients and family members also shared poignant testimonials about the positive impact that Professor Bunsen Honeydew has already made on their emotional and physical well-being. Event participants decorated dog-themed crafts such as dog houses and coloring sheets featuring Professor’s likeness, and they enjoyed treats which included cookies shaped like dog bones. As the guest of honor, Professor was greeted throughout the event with squeals of excitement and hugs from young patients and the flash of cameras from equally excited members of the local and national press.
“As center stage for our therapeutic programming, The Child Life Zone provided a distinguished backdrop for the launch of our Paws & Play facility dog program,” said Child Life Assistant Director Morgan Stojanowski. “It was an ideal environment in which to introduce leaders, patients, and families to our beloved Professor. We look forward to many more opportunities for Professor to bring joy, play, and healing within this therapeutic space.”