A new comfort dog comes to American Family Children’s Hospital

UW Health welcomes new facility dog, Cola, the the American Family Children's Hospital.
UW Health welcomes new facility dog, Cola, the the American Family Children's Hospital.(UW Health)
Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 2:46 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2022 at 2:47 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A new dog professionally trained to comfort children during their treatments has joined the staff of American Family Children’s Hospital, according UW Health Kids.

Cola, a 2-year-old golden doodle, started at the hospital on Aug. 1. Cola is the second comfort dog at the hospital, joining a 3-year-old golden doodle named Kiko who has been part of the staff since Sept. 2021, UW Health Kids said.

Both Cola and Kiko are part of the Canine Health and Medical Pals program, or CHAMPs. According to Julie Auenson, manager, child life services, UW Health Kids, CHAMPS is possible because of the hospital’s partnership with Canine Assistants, a nonprofit organization that pairs facility dogs with child life specialists.

UW Health welcomes new facility dog, Cola.
UW Health welcomes new facility dog, Cola.(UW Health)

CHAMPs will not replace UW Health’s Pet Pals, which has been around since 1996. Pet Pals will continue alongside the CHAMPs program, which consists of the dogs of volunteers coming in to cuddle patients in a group setting. Pet Pals is still on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions, the hospital said in their press release.

Unlike with Pet Pals, facility dogs, like the ones from CHAMPs are trained to work 40 hour weeks with specific intervention and coping plans for the children, the release continues.