Our Dogs

Kaia and Pilot were born and raised at a non-profit organization called Canine Assistants, Inc. in Milton, GA. Each dog is part of the Child Life team, and works 40 hours a week, with time set aside for downtime, walks and naps.


Kaia has been professionally taught through a bond-based choice teaching program in preparation to serve as a key member of the Children’s Hospital treatment team. Kaia will provide animal assisted interventions - like demonstrating to a child how to be still on the CT scan table.

Kaia is a full-time employee in Child Life, and will work directly with primary handler Ashley Kane, Child Life manager.


Pilot has been professionally taught skills unique to working with kids at a Children’s Hospital. He tends to patients in pediatric surgery and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

Pilot works directly with his primary handler, Stacy Gloudemans, certified child life specialist and secondary handlers, Jenn Shearn, child life assistant, and Joan McGeary, certified child life specialist. He will spend most of his time tending to patients in the Pediatric Surgical Care Unit and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. 


Captain has been professionally taught skills unique to working help young kids at the orthopaedics and neurophysiology pediatric specialty clinics at 30 Hope Drive on the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center campus.

Captain works with his primary handler, Michelle Flynn, certified child life specialist, and secondary handler, Derek Flynn, physician assistant in the Division of Pediatric Orthopaedics. He will spend his time helping pediatric patients receiving outpatient orthopaedic, physical medicine and rehabilitation and neurophysiology services.


Skye will work with the staff-assigned chaplains to address employee distress and promote resilience at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and the Children’s Hospital.

Skye works with her primary handler, Kelly Fuddy, the staff-assigned chaplain at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and secondary handler, Laura Ramsey, the staff-assigned chaplain in the Children’s Hospital. Skye will work alongside Fuddy and Ramsey providing comfort and support to caregivers, including managing crises and helping staff who are dealing with stress and the after-effects of crises, while also helping to prevent potential problems like burnout and fatigue. Skye will join Fuddy and Ramsey at staff meetings and debriefs and visit clinical units to check in on caregivers.

A golden retriever dog named Thor is on the left and a women wearing a pink top is on the right. They are sitting on a wooden bench with trees in the background. Both are looking at the camera. This photo was taken in August 2023.


Thor will work with the adult patients in acute care at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and inpatients at Penn State Cancer Institute.

Thor works with his primary handler, Janelle Frantz, a recreational therapist, and his secondary handler, Alyson Yost, a clinical staff leader. Thor will assist patients with dementia and memory loss, as well as inpatients undergoing treatment at the Cancer Institute. He will work with Krantz and Yost as part of Hershey Medical Center’s I-MOVE initiative, helping patients to get out of bed and move around during their time in the hospital. The I-MOVE program helps patients with their recovery, including decreasing the length of patient stays and increasing patient satisfaction.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a facility dog?

A facility dog is professionally trained to work in a healthcare setting as an important part of a child’s treatment process. At Children’s Hospital, our facility dogs will provide customized interventions so that nurses and hospital staff can best meet the child’s needs.

How often will the facility dogs be at the Children’s Hospital?

Our dogs are full-time employee of the Children’s Hospital and will be with their primary handlers for 40 hours per week, with time allowed for downtime, naps and walks.

What do our facility dogs do after work and on the weekends?

Kaia and Pilot live with their primary handlers and will go home at the end of the day and carpool with their handlers to work. Evenings and weekends will likely be spent going for walks, playing games, resting.

Will the facility dogs go throughout the Children’s Hospital?

Kaia’s main job is to support the efforts of her primary, Ashley Kane. Ashley supports pediatric patients in radiology and radiation oncology. Kaia will spend the majority of her time working in these areas.

Pilot works directly with his primary handler, Stacy Gloudemans, certified child life specialist and secondary handlers, Jenn Shearn, child life assistant, and Joan McGeary, certified child life specialist. He will spend most of his time tending to patients in the Pediatric Surgical Care Unit and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. 

Will the facility dogs be protected from radiation in radiology?

Absolutely! Our dogs will not be in the room while there is chance of exposure to radiation. They will be in the room before the testing begins to help the child adjust to the situation and get positioned on the table and she will return once testing is complete.

Do the facility dogs replace the Pet Therapy Program?

No! The Pet Therapy Program is a very important program in both the Children’s Hospital and the adult hospital. The facility dog program does not replace pet therapy in any way. Pet therapy dogs and the facility dog have different training and support patients in different ways. The facility dog provides very specific interventions for patients, while pet therapy dog’s visit designated units within the Children’s Hospital and visit many patients to provide a calming influence during their time at the hospital.

Do other hospitals have facility dogs?

Children’s Hospital is the first children’s hospital in Pennsylvania to employ full-time facility dogs. However, other hospitals do offer robust pet therapy programs. Nationwide, there are approximately 30 children’s hospitals that have facility dogs.

How are facility dogs trained?

Facility dogs are carefully and responsibly bred and raised based upon several qualities and characteristics. The organization where the facility dog was trained also adopts dogs from local shelter and rescue organizations on occasion. The facility dogs are trained using the bond-based choice teaching approach. Facility dogs are trained for the first 14-24 months of their lives before being placed with facilities such as children’s hospitals. The handler of the facility dog also goes through training camp once partnered with the dog to learn the bond-based teaching method and other important information.

How much does it cost to train and raise a facility dog?

On average, the associated training cost per facility dog is just over $22,000. This includes training, vaccinations, veterinary care and food for the lifetime of the facility dog.

Did Penn State Health or the Children’s Hospital have to pay for this dog?

No! The generosity of the non-profit organization that raises the facility dogs does not charge any fee for the services of raising and training a facility dog before placement. Funding is already earmarked for our facility dogs. The training for one facility dog takes between 14 and 24 months and costs about $22,000.

Thanks to support from Spirit of Children, Hope in the Air, JP and Teresa Bilbrey, the Simpson family and Barbara Dashiell, we have been able to welcome our current group of facility dogs. The program is sustained by ongoing funding from these and many other donors, including the inaugural anonymous benefactor who helped purchase the first facility dog, Kaia. The Kelso Facility Dog Endowment, in honor of their dog, a Belgian Malinois named Kelso, provides support across the program, including the cost of caring for the dogs and their eventual retirement. We welcome others to join in this effort by donating to the Kelso Fund.

Man’s best friends have long been recognized as great companions. Now their special talents are celebrated as a vital part of the healing care offered at the Children’s Hospital and Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Quite simply, there’s a magic and power to animal-assisted therapy and intervention.