Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital recently welcomed its first full-time facility dog to work with the Child Life department. Brea (pronounced Bray-UH) is an expertly trained 2-year-old canine who provides comfort, support and serves as a friendly distraction for children during procedures and throughout their hospitalization.
Leah Frohnerath, M.S., CCLS, has been carefully matched by the professionals at Canine Companions for Independence who have bred, raised and trained facility dogs in a clinical setting since 1975. She will serve as our first certified Child Life specialist facility dog handler, providing services to patients and families in partnership with Brea.
Training, Coverage Areas and More
Facility dogs are trained to assist with goal-oriented interventions and address the physical and psychological needs of patients, families and staff. Brea will assist Frohnerath on several units throughout the hospital. Together, they will deliver Child Life services to patients in an effort to achieve clinical goals.
Separate from our current Pet Therapy program, a facility dog brings additional patient benefits:
- A Familiar Face. Consistently seeing Brea makes it easier for patients to bond, provides comfort to families during difficult times, eases fears and helps make meaningful memories at the hospital.
- Access to Care. Facility dogs are allowed to go places within the hospital therapy dogs can’t. To lend a furry paw or serve as a friendly distraction during stressful or uncomfortable situations, Brea and Frohnerath can help prepare and be present during procedures such as pokes, line pulls, imaging studies and more.
- Availability. Brea works 40-hour weeks, which means she can increase her frequency and accommodate longer visits with patients. Spending additional time together makes a significant impact on children and can be used as a great motivational tool.
Canine Companions for Independence typically places between 325 and 375 assistance dogs per year. It has more than 2,600 active teams throughout the country and has placed more than 6,700 dogs since its founding in 1975.
All About Brea
The launch of the Facility Dog program and partnership with Brea was made possible by a philanthropic Foundation donor. Before coming to Johns Hopkins All Children’s, her two-year specialized training at Canine Companions for Independence started after she was matched and puppy raised by an inmate at Gadsden Correctional Facility, a state prison for women. Her journey continued with 10-months of socialization in a private home before returning to CCI to finish her professional training.
“I am extremely excited for Brea to be a part of our team,” Frohnerath says. “Although we have only been working together for just over a month, I am already stunned by Brea’s ability to make connections with patients. She has made painful procedures tolerable, even enjoyable for our patients, and helped staff bolster their energy to do the amazing work that they do.”
When Brea is off duty, she goes home to the Frohnerath family to decompress and enjoy the many perks of being a dog. It’s all about work-life balance.