Pet Therapy - Joey web version

Dudzik and Paddy visit with Joey at Seattle Children’s.

At Seattle Children’s Hospital healing comes in all forms. From music therapy to acupuncture, Seattle Children’s offers many services to comfort children while they are inpatient at the hospital. One of those forms even includes a wagging tail, wet snout and big brown eyes.

Christi Dudzik and Paddy, her 5-year-old yellow Labrador, are one of 12 dog teams at Seattle Children’s that provide comfort to patients and families through its animal-assisted activities program. Dudzik, who has been training pet therapy dogs for more than 20 years, says there’s no better place to be than with Paddy walking through the halls of Seattle Children’s.

“When children see Paddy, I see their faces brighten,” said Dudzik. “Our visits give children and their families a break from their concerns and worries. It’s a tremendous distraction where we’re able to help them focus on something light hearted, and in some cases, Paddy even helps patients with the rehabilitation process.”

Watch Paddy and Dudzik in action at Seattle Children’s in the KING 5 Evening Magazine segment, “Therapy Dogs Helps Seattle Children’s Patients Heal.”

Paddy brings smiles to children

Joey Chapa, 10, was admitted to Seattle Children’s on Tuesday, Feb. 3. He was having seizures and needed to be evaluated by Seattle Children’s neurology team. After only a couple days in the hospital, Joey was ready to go back to his home in Yakima. He missed his dog Russell, affectionately named by his mother after the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson. The hospital bed was the last place he wanted to be.

Luckily, Paddy was able to help provide a special visit and a remedy for a homesick heart.

“It was so nice to have them visit,” said Eva Ruesga, Joey’s mother. “You could tell, and see it in his eyes, it really lifted his spirit.”

Growing the program thanks to PetSmart

PetSmart Donation

PetSmart generously commits $157,500 over five years to fund Seattle Children’s animal-assisted therapy program.

Thanks to a generous donation from PetSmart, Seattle Children’s animal-assisted activities program will continue to grow and provide more visits to patients and families, like Joey, in need of a healing paw. PetSmart generously committed $157,500 over five years to help fund the hospital’s animal-assisted therapy program.

“At PetSmart, we know the power of pets and their ability to help kids heal,” said David Lenhardt, president and chief executive officer of PetSmart. “Partnerships, like this one with Seattle Children’s Hospital, make a world of difference to those in the hospital. I look forward to watching this program grow as it continues to positively impact even more lives.”